The 19 articles in this edifying paperback all appeared in Presence, the journal of Spiritual Directors International. Nick Wagner, the editor of this publication, states in the introduction that the organization's website,, lists more than 20 definitions of spiritual direction representing various faith traditions, formation practices, and spiritualities. Those who minister to others call themselves companions, guides, teachers, spiritual friends, fathers or mothers, masters, or midwives.

Wagner believes that the overarching theme of spiritual direction is the exploration of a love relationship with God. These essays cover many of the mysterious and adventurous contexts for this exploration — in hospitals; in seminaries; among the homeless; in rural areas; in small faith communities; among gay, lesbian, and bisexual people; and with elders who are pensive in the last stage of life. Wagner has also chosen to cover topics such as dreams, discernment, and taking action on behalf of justice.

Some of our favorite selections are Shaun McCarty's exploration of spiritual directors as teachers and guardians of mystery; Thomas Hart's assessment of the differences between pastoral counseling and spiritual direction; Patricia Brown's essay on women's spirituality groups; Susan P. Sihler's overview of spiritual guidance in later life; and James M. Keegan's commentary on spiritual direction as action for justice. This varied collection is proof positive that spiritual direction is alive and well and filled with lively possibilities.