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16 May 2017

ANSD - The Australian Network for Spiritual Direction

Hospitality is the heart of the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction where all are welcome.

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16 May 2017

The Australian Network for Spiritual Direction was born in 1989 as an ecumenical endeavour, committed to fostering spiritual direction and to the training of spiritual directors in the Christian Community. Membership is open not only to trained spiritual directors but also to anyone interested in or curious about the ministry of spiritual direction.

Over the years the network has grown into a vibrant web of connectedness across Australia. Regional groups meet regularly and there is an Annual conference which is held in rotation around the states and territories to promote regional growth and access.

So what is spiritual direction, then? 

One image that may be useful to depict the spiritual direction space would be Rublev’s hospitality icon. The Trinity is there providing a safe place around the table. There is an open space where we as observers are invited to come in and take our place; to dine with the Trinity – being nourished, guided, heard deeply, known exquisitely and enabled profoundly. So spiritual directors are those who drink from the well of the Trinity, and have the charism and have been trained in deep listening and the accompanying of another in their journey with God. There is a dependence upon the God, Jesus and the Spirit, who are after all the primary Spiritual Directors. A spiritual direction session centres around enabling a person, the directee, to notice the movements of God in their day-to-day life, and to nourish this intimate relationship with God. 

The spiritual director is not seen as an expert, but rather one who accompanies the other in the ongoing discovery of the distinct dynamics of the directee’s unique relationship with God. God’s wisdom resides within each one of us, so the director’s role is to hold the space where a person can get in touch with this Wisdom Presence and be encouraged, guided and enlivened by it. Issues surrounding discernment may also take a central role, looking together at how healthy decision-making can happen, with the directee noticing where they are driven or where they are drawn, and being aware of the different textures and nuances that come with each.

And so to this end, the ANSD conferences have been designed to foster development in the ministry and expression of spiritual direction. In 2016 we invited Prof Belden Lane  (author of Solace of Fierce Landscapes, and Backpacking with the Saints) to lead a desert retreat at Koora in Western Australia prior to presenting at the conference which was on “Renewing the Great Conversation – Spiritual Direction and the Natural World”, followed by a retreat at New Norcia based on the desert fathers and mothers. This year we have Prof Elizabeth Liebert (author of “The Soul of Discernment” and “On Retreat with the Psalms”) to present at our conference in Tasmania on the topic of discernment followed by a retreat held in bushland setting.

Hospitality is the heart of the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction where all are welcome.

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