"Nourishing the 'container' that is marriage"
Kristen Carrocinno writes her thoughts following the Couples' Spiritual Direction event hosted by SPOTS (Spouses & Partners of Theological Students) at Southwest.
Last night Jean Springer, spiritual director and founder of the local nonprofit contemplative center Eremos, spoke to a group of around fifteen Seminarians and spouses about couples' spiritual direction. Some of the questions she posed were "why would one seek spiritual direction?" and "why would a couple seek spiritual direction together?" Throughout the evening, we laughed, got a little anxious at times, and even shed a few tears as we turned to our partners and shared our deepest joys and fears about the call to ministry, whether one is being paid as a professional or not, and most importantly about the call to the vocation of marriage.
Jean shared that both individual and couples' spiritual direction can be vitally important during different stages of life. The emphasis in couples' spiritual direction is for the director to be listening deeply to the larger story and working of God in that unique space created by marriage. The ongoing work for the couple is to recognize that while individual growth and development is always happening they must never forget that the call to marriage means to be also continually nourishing the "container" that is marriage.
Couples' spiritual direction can be very helpful during those seasons with intense spiritual transition when we can be deeply listened to by an outside, objective party and encouraged to be asking ourselves where we see God's mystery working in "us." Seminary is certainly one of those times of spiritual transition! Many of us left Jean's presentation, I believe, with a deepened appreciation for the vocation of marriage and a conviction to keep remembering that God calls us within a marriage not just as individuals - but also as a couple.
In closing, Jean shared with us a prayer from Philip Newell's Sounds of the Eternal that she believes captures the essence of spiritual direction
That truth has been inscribed into my heart
And into the heart of every human being,
There to be read and reverenced,
Thanks be to you, O God.
That there are ways of seeing
And sensitivities of knowing
Hidden deep in the place of the soul,
Waiting to be discovered,
Ready to be set free,
Thanks be to you.
Open my senses to wisdom's inner promptings
That I may give voice to what I hear in my soul
And be changed for the healing of the world,
That I may listen for truth in every living soul
And be changed for the well-being of the world.
More information about Jean Springer and Eremos may be found at www.eremos.org