Spiritual direction is fluid and open-ended. It does not flourish with much giving of advice or a rigid structure. Nevertheless, a simple scaffold, to be dismantled later may be essential to strong and balanced personal growth. Discovering the Treasure Within is designed to supply minimal structure for working with most of the classical tools of Christian spirituality. A carpenter carries only the necessary tools in his belt, and is highly skilled in using them. Many specialty tools wait in the truck or workshop. This book is like the tool belt, it holds the major tools for spiritual development: meditation, dream work, sharing with others, journaling, prayerful listening, imagination and reflecting on scripture. In this sense, the book is comprehensive. It covers skills everyone will need to work with. But it is not all-inclusive; many powerful tools are left in the workshop.
The author suggests using this book as a resource, scaffolding for making a strong start for basic individual work with a mentor, or with small groups. As an individual one might begin with “Introduction: Taking the Plunge” (Sampled above). This section should get the journaling process going in a focused, but fairly surface way. Then move to Chapter 9, “Dreams & the Spiritual Archetypes,” over at least two sessions. This will gently move journaling to a deeper level, quite challenging for many. Next examine the journal entries to see what archetypes and growth issues seem to present themselves. Then look over the other chapters to decide where to work next. Always go with the energy.
If you are thinking of starting a local spirituality group, the author suggests using the detailed lesson plans on the accompanying CD for a five week course using the book. (There is much more material than needed. Adapt it.) This will provide both the experience of group formation, and an opportunity to introduce and work with all seven spiritual practises, which comprise a basic and necessary set of tools for Christian spiritual development. This period mostly deals with the Adult phase of the Christ archetype. Any novice group will benefit from working with each of the essential skills. Everything works best together, as does strengthening the whole body in a thoughtful physical training program. ( One or two critical exercises may well be overlooked, sometimes the most important ones for a particular person’s long-term growth.) After the first five weeks, find out who wants to continue going deeper into the spiritual experience. Discern what phases of the archetype are most relevant to participants at this time (The long meditation “Six Moments with Christ” may help with this task.) Then, after a break, proceed with another series, perhaps five weeks. (It is effective to have a relatively large group for phase one, seated at separate tables for discussion. The ongoing deeper groups should be six to twelve persons at most with a supervised mentor.) By this time the group will have moved from concern with spiritual development stages and the skills needed for practice, into the participants’ more specific personal issues, in a prayerful environment of mutual support. After phase two, a group or members of it might continue to meet occasionally with the spiritual mentor; other possibilities might be, for example, continuing with a series of dream work sessions, or contemplative prayer gatherings, or a Bible study. By this point a group will be ready to leave behind the chapters of DTTW. Like scaffolding no longer needed they will move along with spiritual direction using more specialized resources and the tools they have practiced.
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The author intends this blog space for short articles that supplement, refine and expand the resources featured in Discovering the Treasure Within. Those using the book for their spiritual practice are invited to share comments. What you offer may well be a blessing to others. If anyone wants to write a short article, recommend a book, or even disagree with the author, send it on. Whatever fits the parameters of the subject matter will be posted.