Esther Yff-Prins is a Spiritual Director practicing at Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her journey to becoming a Spiritual Director was inspired by a Dominican Sister. After completing the Spiritual Director Practicum, Esther has continued meeting with directees at Dominican Center. She recently shared some insights about spiritual direction.
Insight #1 ~ Because we can only accompany others as far as we ourselves have gone.
About a year into spiritual direction, as I gradually allowed the tuning fork of the Spirit to change me, Sister Jude suggested I think about becoming a spiritual director myself. I thought she was nuts and told her so, but her faith in me remained steadfast. I discovered that I could go to the edges of myself and make different choices, to grow, to integrate, to understand—and that I was richer for those kinds of choices. Sister Jude was a mirror for me, allowing me to see myself through her non-judgmental eyes, and finding the sparks of light and beauty that were deep inside. She listened me into a place of grace and goodness, and faith in what the Spirit might do with me. She helped me befriend my uncertainty, to let my questions breathe, to let the answers find ME.
Insight #2 ~ Find the Sparks of Holy Light
Realize the wonder and truth in listening to another’s story. Be that mirror and find the sparks of holy light and beauty in the person who has entrusted his or her story to you. Let your eyes be soft, let your heart be hopeful, let your faith in the other’s original goodness be steadfast. Focus on the desire of the heart and notice where resistance attempts to overcome that desire. And remember, others’ stories offer a portal into your own story.
In everything that happens to us, God is offering new possibilities of life and healing. We can read books, we can attend workshops and conferences, we can talk, talk, talk, but until we begin to see the gift in our own life experiences, until we journey to the edges of our lives and take a long, loving look at our realities, our shadows, we will not transform into wholeness or holiness.
Insight #3 ~ This is the Work of the Soul
Cultivate attentiveness to yourself, to nature and to the other. Continue your inner work, noticing where the Spirit may be taking you. Find the sparks of holy light and beauty in your story and allow transformation to occur. Do this through your own spiritual direction, through your peer group, through journaling, through developing habits of the heart that sustain and deepen you.
I bring the gifts of my experience to this work—loves requited and unrequited, losses mourned and honored, devastating sadness and exuberant joy, a heart that has overflowed in gratitude and turned to stone in anger and fear. My desire is to allow the wisdom and grace of those experiences to arise and transform me as I listen to another’s sacred story with the ears of my heart. This is
the work of the soul. This is service.
Regardless of your or my faith history, the path to truth in each of us is a deep, revealing and redeeming movement of grace… the Spirit can make us radical agents of transformative love.
Insight #4 ~ Our Stories are Never Finished
Nurture your spirit daily with contemplative practices that are lifegiving and nurturing, that root you firmly in your particular reality, that speak to your soul.
Listen to your life, divine its meaning, and open your heart to the other.
Spend time in solitude and stillness. Our stories are never finished; there is always more meaning, more revelation, more grace to discover. May the Spirit bless your work.