I was recording a Podcast recently and our guest began to speak about Spiritual Direction. He observed, that among other things, Spiritual Directions creates a safe place for people to ask questions. Not questions demanding an answer, at least not at that moment, but question that might need just to be asked for the sake of their faith.
Miracles are plentiful at the beginning of Jesus ministry but become less frequent, (or at least fewer are recorded), as he moves towards the cross. As miracles decrease, the depth of Jesus teaching about the character of God and of the kingdom increase. It is as if ‘wonders’ give way to ‘wonderings’. There is in a way, a maturing in the depth and breadth of what Jesus reveals as his disciples grow and deepen in their faith and trust in him. One may notice that as time goes on, the disciples ask more and more questions of Jesus too. These questions do not reveal doubt, they reveal a thirst for a more complete and beautiful faith.
But questions can be dangerous, at least to some people. Questions can make people feel uncomfortable or threatened. Questions can bring risk to the status quo, the established powers and assumed doctrine which we have been told is settled and should never be questioned, lest you find yourself on the wrong side of right!
But like the disciples, many people I meet with, including pastors and church leaders develop questions, they wonder about theology that they are taught were absolute. Black and white thinking and seeing give way to shades of grey especially when theory meets practice.
Spiritual Direction is not meant to offer answers to these questions but it is meant to be a place where they can be asked, where doubts can be articulated, or different ideas explored, in a place where there is no judgement, no risk of losing a community or a job. Some people end up in the same place they began but are relieved to have been able to just ask the questions. Others discover that they are not alone in their thoughts and wonderings and that there maybe other ways of understanding faith and the events of scripture.
Either way, being able to ask questions with one who will listen to you, listen with you and listen for you, is one of the gifts of Spiritual Direction.