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Dig deeper with spiritual direction


Terri Bristow, left, and Gene Bradbury, right, are spiritual directors. They work with people one-on-one in exploring how God fits into one’s life through change and spiritual exploration. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Gene Bradbury and Terri Bristow want to help you dig deeper into your spiritual life.

The two spiritual directors are reaching out to Sequim residents seeking God in their individual lives.

They explain that spiritual direction is an ancient process that relates to all faiths and to those not a part of organized religion.

“The name ‘spiritual direction’ is a misnomer. It’s not getting directions or being told what to do,” Bristow said.

“A better name would be spiritual companionship or friendship.”

Both directors emphasized it’s not Christian counseling.

“How it differs from pastoral counseling, general counseling and therapy is that it isn’t a quick fix. It’s a journey,” Bradbury said.

Bristow said the focus is on one’s life and image of God.

“The role of a spiritual director is not to inflict his/her beliefs on the directee but to focus on how God is visible in their lives,” she said.

Why Sequim?
They offer spiritual direction meetings at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, where they worship on Sundays. They feel the church offers outreach programs in line with spiritual direction.

“We’ve felt the western churches are focusing on outreach and physical growth but not spiritual growth so much,” Bradbury said.

“It’s another resource for people to discover more about their selves and spirituality.”

Jack Anderson, pastor at DVLC, said spiritual learning is important and that he used it while in seminary.

“If people are afraid or uncertain, I hope they can get past that because this is a great resource,” Anderson said.

“Both (Bradbury and Bristow) are excellent listeners, others-oriented and have received training in spiritual direction.”

Anyone can participate in spiritual direction but most people who do are in the second part of their life, Bradbury said.

Bristow, who moved to Sequim in 2006, thinks many retirees have finished growing spiritually.

“Sometimes we can put a lid on our spiritual life and call it good,” she said.

“It’s probably good our image of God changes. It’s a maturing process.”

At the root
Although different from counseling, spiritual direction can help those dealing with grief, divorce, empty nest syndrome or illness, they said.

Bristow believes spiritual direction begins within each person and as they grow, society and the world are authentically transformed.

“We are all on a journey. It’s how we deal with our awareness and how we are responding to what we are calling God,” she said.

Bradbury feels spiritual direction validates a person.

“It’s easy to fall into trying to fix and give answers for someone,” he said.

“We simply listen and provide spiritual guidance and companionship.”

The line between counseling and spiritual direction is easy to cross for directees, they said. When that happens, they center their questions to God and how specific problems and thoughts relate to spirituality. Sometimes problems such as alcohol or drugs come up and a spiritual director will offer resources for help.

Taking a step to spiritual direction
Those interested in spiritual direction are encouraged to reflect and pray about participating to determine if sharing with a director is the right option.

They encourage people to call them at their home offices or to contact the Spiritual Direction International office in Bellingham at 425-455-1565 or www.sdiworld.org.

Local visits can be weekly, monthly or less frequently.

“After the first meeting with a director, it’s important to evaluate it to see if the fit is right,” Bradbury said.

The first meeting is free, although they ask for a donation to the church. Later fees will be negotiated on a sliding scale.

Meetings are held at DVLC, although Bradbury can meet elsewhere. 

Bristow received spiritual direction training through an 18-month internship in 1998 and has years of experience in meditation and healing touch therapies. She can be reached at 683-4775 or tabristow@olympicwi-fi.com.

Bradbury is a retired Lutheran pastor of 40 years. He earned a post-graduate diploma in spiritual direction from Vancouver School of Theology. He can be reached at 683-7400 or gdbradbury@yahoo.com.

Brochures can be found at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, 923 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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