On Saturday, June 8, 2013, nine adults gathered, along with family and friends, in the East Gallery of St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church to celebrate and graduate from the Tacheria School of Spiritual Direction. The participants, ranging from their early 30s to early 80s, are as diverse as one can imagine—each drawn to the program for a different reason and in a different manner. For some, the concept of spiritual direction was new—and there were Google searches to figure out what in the world spiritual direction was (a way of increasing awareness of the divine and figuring out how to embrace that awareness for one’s self and for/with others). For others it was a well-known and practiced discipline. But we all wanted more or a different experience. Some of us were waiting for timing and life circumstances to be “just right” to indulge in this commitment of study, prayer, and participation in a community of seekers. Others were ready to dive right in to a process they felt called to for a very long time.
Most had no idea of the transformative power of this two-year program.
Tacheria, a Yaqui word meaning inner spirit or inner journey, reflects both the native Southwest roots and the purpose of the Center: “supporting spiritual guides in their efforts to work in a multi-faith world.” The school, “a Multifaith Centre for Spirituality, Reconciliation and the Sacred Arts,” was founded by St. Philippian and spiritual director, Dr. Jeanette Renouf, in conjunction with Lupon Claude d’Estree, a (Tibeten) Buddhist, in 1992. In 2006 Jeanette passed leadership of the School to the Rev. Frank Williams and his wife Linda Williams. Jeanette became head of the board and continues to play an active role in teaching and facilitating at the annual retreat.
Frank and Linda Williams, with their combined wisdom and experience in counseling and spiritual direction, are uniquely qualified to lovingly and insightfully interview potential students, create the classes, develop the curriculum, and orchestrate the daily undertakings of the program. Their goal: to provide opportunity for spiritual growth, and to train men and women in the process of becoming spiritual directors. Do all graduates do that? Not at all. Do all graduates emerge with a new perspective on the divine … my bet would be a resounding yes!
In Tacheria we seem to learn the art of creating safe and welcoming space for spiritual exploration for ourselves and for those with whom we live and work. Whether we elect to do that professionally or informally is up to us … and the Divine.
This program is open to ordained and non-ordained men and women of all faiths and traditions. It is ever changing and growing, influenced by the faculty and graduates, the board of directors, and the experiences we bring to the classes. The faculty is from many traditions: they willingly share their insights, knowledge, wisdom, and experience and embrace the questions we bring to the classroom.
Many people seem to approach the program dubiously with pragmatic questions: Do I have to be “religious “ to join Tacheria? Do I have to belong to a particular faith tradition or church? Do I have to know the bible or my sacred text? Do I have to be—or become—ordained or have a clear direction and calling to be a spiritual director? The answer to all these questions is a definitive NO.
What do you need to become a participant?
- Curiosity and questions
- A willingness to learn about and from the sacred stories, beliefs and traditions of the world’s major religions
- A willingness to explore the “god” questions in your own life
- And a willingness to share your beliefs, doubts and spirit with fellow seekers.
- Time to read and a willingness to open yourself to new disciplines and practices
It is a time of soul searching and enrichment that may open surprising new paths and directions in your own “inward journey”
If this process ignites even one little spark in your intellect or spirit—follow the lead. The journey might be the richest you have taken to date.
The School will begin again in September 2013. Classes will occur on the second Saturday of each month, September–June, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., for two ten-month sessions. The weekend retreat (held at the Redemptorist Retreat Center at Picture Rocks in January) will be an experience you will not forget.
The journey you will travel will be remarkable, transformative, and bring you one step closer to whatever work in the world you are meant to do at this point in your life. It’s an invitation that only you know how to respond to.
For more information contact: Frank R. Williams, Ph.D., or Linda Williams, Directors, 297-6098 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not ready to take the plunge—contact me … we’ll talk! Trust me, it’s a great journey!
When I enrolled in Tacheria, I was somewhat open to the possibility of becoming a Spiritual Director myself, but was far more interested in the interfaith studies that would be offered. Nevertheless, my experience with my own insightful and compassionate Spiritual Director (who much prefers to be called a Spiritual Companion) and the opportunities to engage in meaningful spiritual direction exercises with fellow students in class over the two years of the program made the prospect much more appealing and less intimidating. As a graduate of Tacheria and member of the Board, I am delighted to participate in the monthly Tacheria Alumni classes, which are similar to the Tacheria classes but shorter and focused on different topics, but the greatest blessing of completing the program has been to offer spiritual direction to a current Tacheria student. Spiritual direction, both as directee and director, has been an immensely powerful and beautiful part of my “inner journey,” my Tacheria!
—Many blessings, Eric Rau