Spiritual Direction Training: The Art of Holy Listening

What is spiritual direction? What is a spiritual director? 

First and foremost, spiritual direction is a relationship between two people wherein one is trained to companion the other as he/she seeks to discern where and how God is at work in his/her life. This relationship is one of deep trust because it is rooted in confidentiality and is safe, sacred space. On their website the North Carolina Institute for Spiritual Direction and Formation describes spiritual direction in this way:

Believing that God is at work in our lives at all times, spiritual direction is the opportunity to meet regularly with a trained spiritual director to talk about how you see and experience God. . . .  [and] you will explore how God is active in your life and what God is saying to you. Spiritual Direction is also an opportunity to grow in discernment as you seek to distinguish God’s voice from many other influences.

Stillpoint: The Center for Christian Spirituality defines a spiritual director as:

A spiritual director is a privileged witness in the spiritual unfolding of another person. The focus is on the relationship between the “directee” and God, rather than on the relationship between the director and directee.

A spiritual director is then one who practices the Art of Holy Listening, who listens deeply and witnesses the spiritual unfolding of another person.

A description of the Center for Sacred Space's current spiritual direction training program may be viewed at this link:


For updates on the progress of the current spiritual direction training program see the blog at this link: 


If you would like to be on the waiting list for the center's next spiritual direction training program, or if you simply have interest in it, you may add your contact information at this link:


Meet our training staff...

Dr. Heidi A. Miller, Faculty

The faculty member for our 2023 – 2025 Training is Heidi Miller. Heidi A. Miller, Ph.D. is Director of the Doctor of Ministry and Associate Professor of Spirituality and Christian Ministry, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia. She has directed programs and served as faculty at Pfeiffer University, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, and Eastern Mennonite University. Dr. Miller has also co-founded and served as a Managing Director in non-profit organizations. Her areas of teaching, research, and writing focus on transformative aspects of leadership, spirituality, spiritual guidance, justice, and worship. She has also worked with business executives regarding the connection between theology and spirituality and has been a consultant with congregations undergoing transition and trauma, as well as with communities working with refugees. For more than 20 years, she has been training sojourners throughout the U.S. and Canada, and designing curriculum in spiritual direction, and soul tending in one-on-one, small group, community, congregational, and organizational contexts. 

Kaye Westmark, Training Director

My spiritual formation began as a child with God as my imaginary playmate, playing, dancing, singing, and delighting together in the outdoors. This relationship, along with my own spiritual exploration, has shaped my ministries, leading me into a contemplative life of prayer and companioning others in spiritual direction and spiritual formation.

In October 2021, I founded a nonprofit, Center for Sacred Space, Inc, with the purpose of providing safe sacred space for all people to deepen their connection with the Divine, self, and others, and to live a contemplative life bringing peace, justice, and freedom into the world. I am the Director of The Art of Holy Listening, a spiritual direction training program, certified spiritual director and supervisor, and have a certificate in certified in spiritual formation. I offer spiritual direction, facilitate spiritual formation small groups, plan retreats, offer contemplative worship, build community in the neighborhood and through outdoor adventures.

I am a wife and mother of two adult married children. I enjoy camping, hiking, water sports, snow skiing, gardening, reading, playing pickleball, singing, liturgical dance, neighborhood gatherings, and porch time with friends.

Pam Townsend, Administrator

I am a spiritual director and live in Auburn, Alabama. I completed spiritual direction training through Sacred Space at Blue Lake in 2020. I am also active in the Academy for Spiritual Formation. I was initially drawn to spiritual direction training with a desire to be a better listener. My passion for spiritual formation for myself and others and my training in spiritual direction uncovered a deep desire and need for a contemplative rhythm and rule of life.

I am a retired accountant and enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, reading, and making jewelry. I am active in my church and enjoy the time I spend with the ladies at Montgomery Women’s Facility and Tutwiler Prison discussing behavioral change, dignity and respect for themselves and for others.

L. Chris Ross, Listening Circle Group Supervisor

Chris has a passion for seeing other people grow and be transformed into their true selves. As a psychotherapist and spiritual guide, he works with individuals and groups to facilitate an atmosphere to help foster a space where others can do their inner work leading to greater outer work. Chris holds a BS in Forestry from Auburn University, MDiv from Emmanuel Christian Seminary, and MS in Community Counseling from Columbus State University. He is a Certified Spiritual Director through the AL-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He lives in Auburn, AL. He is married and has two children. 

Donell Seager, Listening Circle Group Supervisor

My training in the Art of Holy Listening, Class of 2012, transformed the way I live and move and have my being in world. Through it, I found a pathway for a deep contemplative life. Spirit has used this way of being to transform me, bringing me healing, hope, peace, and freedom I never thought possible.

In October of 2021, along with Kaye Westmark, I helped found Center for Sacred Space for the purpose of providing safe sacred space for all people to deepen their connection with the Divine, self, and others, and to live a contemplative life bringing peace, justice, and freedom into the world. My training in spiritual direction awakened in me a call to supervision and was a small group supervisor for the Art of Holy Listening, Class of 2020. I’m anticipating with joy serving as a small group supervisor for the Art of Holy Listening, Class of 2025. Witnessing the birth of spiritual directors has been one of my greatest joys and privileges.

I encounter the Holy through my husband of 36 years (Paul) and our children and grandchildren, nature and tending my gardens, at the beach, paddle boarding, and through my ministry of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, which includes facilitating small groups, teaching, and leading retreats.

Roger Short, Listening Circle Group Supervisor

Born into a Christian family in Iowa and raised mostly in Arkansas, I have also lived in Texas, Alabama, and Georgia. My higher education was in the field of engineering, and I worked for the US Army 7+ years in an engineering development project for an air defense missile system.

Answering a call to ministry, I engaged in theological training and received ordination in the United Methodist Church, where I served North Alabama congregations for 34 years. I came to spiritual formation and spiritual direction through the "school of hard knocks," the Walk to Emmaus, the Colleague Covenant Forum, 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation, the journey I share with my spiritual director, and Spiritual Direction Training: The Art of Holy Listening I. I am certified by The United Methodist Church in the ministry of spiritual formation.

My wife, Jeri, is my life partner, best friend, and soul companion. We have 2 grown sons (one married), and 3 grandkids. Since retiring from pastoral ministry in 2014, I have devoted myself to teaching theological heritage to licensed local pastors, offering spiritual direction, and providing spiritual formation ministries in multiple settings--retreats, churches, communities, and small groups. I enjoy camping, reading, bicycling, and music. I look treasure sharing the spiritual journey with participants and staff in The Art of Holy Listening III.

Betty Johnson, Listening Circle Group Supervisor

After a thirty year career in healthcare, I now find  joy in connecting and walking alongside others on their spiritual journey.  I work part time consulting with groups, congregations, and individuals, assisting in  naming and using  their strengths and gifts to live fully into their purpose. I enjoy journaling as a spiritual practice, as well as poetry writing, tending the earth, knitting,  and sharing a cup of coffee with my tribe. I completed spiritual direction training through the Louisiana United Methodist Conference in 2012.  My husband and I reside in Shreveport, LA, where we live in close proximity to our daughter and her husband, as well as an assortment of family. 

Pam Avery, Listening Circle Group Supervisor

I taught music for twenty years as a first career, then following two bouts with cancer, moved to Pensacola, Florida to do ministry. I have been in pastoral ministry for nineteen years, currently serving as Associate Pastor at Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church. I am a certified spiritual director. I am also certified in Enneagram. I began work with the Enneagram Personality Profile twelve years ago and was amazed at the transformational effect it had on me. I love sharing it with others. I have led numerous spiritual retreats as well as Enneagram training sessions around the Pensacola, Florida area and beyond.

My husband, Rev. Dr. Charles Avery passed away in July of 2020. I have two sons, two daughters-in-love, and three precious grandchildren. My joy is to help people find their own joy! I am very excited to be a part of the Sacred Space Leadership Team and look forward to empowering new spiritual directors.