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“What you need is awareness,” said the master to the religious-minded disciple, “Awareness, awareness, awareness.”

“I know. So I seek to be aware of God’s presence.”

"God-awareness is fantasy, for you have no notion of what God is like. Self-awareness is what you need.”

Why Supervision?

The basic question we raise as spiritual directors is “who and where is God in all of this ” This is a daunting question. It is the fundamental question of our lives, filled with paradox. It cannot be fully answered and yet it is at the heart of human existence. Such a question is filled with challenge. Throughout history we have witnessed the destruction done in the name of God. To enter into the question with the freedom to hear the guidance is what supervision is all about.

How do we begin to recognize the movement of the Sacred in the lives of our directees, in our own lives? What teaches us who is this Sacred being? Questions of existence, essence and purpose have been pondered from the beginning of time and by many far more eloquent and wise than I. So how is it that one has the audacity to engage in this process as a spiritual director, let alone become a supervisor with student spiritual directors?

Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit from India who died in the 1987, tells us this story:

“What you need is awareness,” said the master to the religious-minded disciple, “Awareness, awareness, awareness.”

“I know. So I seek to be aware of God’s presence.”

"God-awareness is fantasy, for you have no notion of what God is like. Self-awareness is what you need.”

At first glance this story seems abrupt and yet it is a story of hope and challenge. Of course, we operate with the awareness that God is at the center of all and yet it is our “false selves” as Thomas Merton would say or our small “s” “self “ as Carl Jung would say that inhibit our full participation and understanding of this reality. Learning to recognize our attachment to interpretations, sensations and emotions can block us as spiritual directors as well as supervisors from the movement of the Sacred. Supervision provides a safe and sacred space to reflect and sink more deeply into “awareness, awareness, awareness” for the purpose of being more in Presence with our directees.

A Contemplative Tradition

The spiritual direction program at Sacred Ground comes out of a contemplative tradition, guided by principles that were given to us through the Ignatian Exercises . We begin with prayer and a space of quiet. Students are asked to include in their verbatims reflections of their own consolation and desolation as they are listening with their directees. How one is drawn toward or away from God are explored. One could also say what is explored is how one is drawn toward or away from one’s deepest Self.

Supervision is a simple process and one that reminds me of a spiral of unfolding awareness. The student spiritual director brings in a verbatim from their session with their directee where the emphasis is on the movement of the student director in relation to what is evolving in their directee and their life. What is primarily focused on are the feelings and life experiences of the student director in regard to how they are affecting one’s freedom to listen and respond to their directee. The student chooses what they would like to explore for themselves which has either pulled them away from the process or deepened their ability to be freely engaged with their directees and the flow of energy within their beings. The process continues for the supervisor as well. Each supervisor gathers in a peer supervision group including the director of the supervisors to engage in a similar process of self reflection with the focus on the supervisor’s life experiences and feelings that inhibit or enhance their ability to freely engage fully in listening with their student directors.

"Truly Sacred Ground"

This truly is “sacred ground” when one listens to another in supervision whose awareness is opening to deeper patterns and motivations that can inhibit one’s ability to be present with a directee on their journey. Freedom is a fruit of the spiritual journey and is a fruit of supervision when this process is a respectful one, where acknowledging one’s choices is ever present . Beginning in prayer and remaining open to the Sacred moving through us invites endless possibilities.

Seeking awareness of the Sacred has its challenges as Thomas Keating has pointed out. . .”when one moves toward the light shadows appear.” Yet, it is in this process that growth occurs. Carl Jung has said that “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

Supervision groups also provide opportunity for consulting questions where issues arise that require more information in order to effectively respond. Common dilemmas are also discussed in the group to develop more skills.

Supervision is a gift of time and space together to listen deeply with the director who is presenting. There is always challenge in this as the process of increasing ‘awareness, awareness, awareness” is not always an easy one for us, humans. New awareness and freedom nourished by compassionate support are fruits of a respectful, prayerful, and discerning group of people, gathered in supervision, knowing we are on sacred ground.

Karin Grosscup



Supervision is a gift of time and space together to listen deeply with the director who is presenting. There is always challenge in this as the process of increasing ‘awareness, awareness, awareness” is not always an easy one for us, humans. New awareness and freedom nourished by compassionate support are fruits of a respectful, prayerful, and discerning group of people, gathered in supervision, knowing we are on sacred ground.

Karin Grosscup
Spiritual Director, MS, CNS
4801 Portland Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55417
kgrosscup@comcast.net
612-825-4069

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4801 Portland Avenue  |   Minneapolis, MN 55417  |   kgrosscup@comcast.net  |   612-825-4069