Scripture can play a part in spiritual direction when it is handled gently - by Romilly Janes

Posted on August 11th, 2020

People seeking direction may be in flight from scripture because of the use and abuse of scripture within their churches. When the meanings of scripture have been fixed as inflexible certainties, they may come seeking a new connection with God who is found in the ambiguity of their lived experience. Scripture could be abandoned altogether. Shaking loose old ideas can be liberating but I wonder if scripture can still be a place of encounter with the living God.

One route to rediscovering scripture as a place of encounter could be through gently encouraging directees to explore the via negativa; the apophatic tradition with its emphasis on what God is not. Surprisingly familiar scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 13 which seem to resound with the certainty of love, embrace mystery for our knowing of God is described as ‘seeing through a glass darkly’. The text could be a good focus for meditative prayer. An ambiguous text like Genesis 32, vs 22-32 in which Jacob in a moment of crisis, wrestles with God who refuses to be named could be a helpful playground for a directee.

Imagination can be a powerful tool for entering biblical stories in spiritual direction while other tools may be helpful for other kinds of text, using Lectico divina or entering into the movement from consolation through desolation to a new orientation within a psalm, as the Word within the word speaks to our souls.

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