In this helpful overview of the spiritual director's role, Leslie A. Hay writes: "As a spiritual director, I've been intentional about extending these traditional forms of hospitality to directees by creating a welcoming environment in which to meet, by greeting congenially, by serving simple refreshment, and by sharing resources when appropriate. But as my ministry of spiritual direction has developed, I've discovered a deeper understanding of hospitality and the integral part it plays in the relationship between the director and the directee. This expanded understanding of hospitality, briefly defined as welcoming presence, is for me the heart of spiritual direction."
This paperback is a Spiritual Directors International Book. The author, who lives in Texas, takes her cues on the practice of hospitality from the Rule of St. Benedict, which has much to say about creating a welcoming environment, offering a safe place for ongoing transformation, and meeting guests with compassion, patience, and perseverance.
Catholic priest Henri J. M. Nouwen claims that hospitality is "one of the richest biblical terms that can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings." Hay agrees, showing how Christ was an inspiring model of hospitality in his roles as guest and host. Jesus also taught about this practice in his parables. Best of all, he showed love and compassion for strangers and outsiders when no one else cared. The author keeps these goals in mind as a spiritual director and when the directee knocks at the door, she ponders:
• "Am I truly accepting?
• Do I create an atmosphere that is warm and free of anxiety?
• Is my heart a spacious womb for another to enter and discover more fully who he or she is?
• Can I let each directee freely explore every avenue without imposing advice or judgment?
• Do I possess the internal space, the emptiness, to listen without prejudice, worry, or expectation?
• Can I receive each directee as a divine presence who reflects some aspect of God's likeness and image?
• Do I understand that each person is on a unique path and will be transformed in his or her own way, and therefore not according to some pre-set schedule, structure, process, or program?"
Hay concludes this examination of hospitality with an overview of the pathways to becoming a passionate person of prayer: learning to rest in the hand of God, expanding our images of God, developing the gift of forgiveness, and cultivating generosity of heart.