COS Profiles
This month’s profile features Andrea Le Roy.
Beginning March 13, Andrea will be leading a six-week series of Lectio Divina at COS. All COS members and friends are welcome to participate.

Interviewer: I understand, Andrea, that you are a spiritual director.

Andrea: Correct.

Interviewer: Tell us, what is spiritual direction?

Andrea: It’s a spiritual practice that usually takes place between two people. It involves deep listening – deep spiritual listening. It is a way of opening yourself up to God, deepening your relationship with God. It is one person helping another person in discerning God’s activity and presence in your life.

Interviewer: How did you get involved with it?

Andrea: For a long time, I had a sense that it was something I wanted to pursue but I had young children and I was working. It’s a practice that involves slowing down in a way; it seems to draw or benefit people who are in the second half of life not exclusively, but that’s definitely been the case for myself and it seems broadly true. Before we moved here, when we were still in Washington, I began going to spiritual direction and as a result of that, I thought I would like to do more. There was a training program in Spokane, through Gonzaga, a Jesuit university, and I had started the process of getting that training and then we moved. But, as it turned out, the Dominican Center here has a program. I have been working as a Spiritual Director for four years.

Interviewer: Can you say a bit more about what this has meant for you personally and how it has nurtured your relationship with God?

Andrea: There are lots of spiritual practices – contemplative prayer, lectio divina, fasting, hospitality etc. So, the way I define spiritual practice is anything that opens you up to God, that makes space in your life for God. Spiritual direction for me has slowed me down, made me better at listening and seeing the ways that God is moving and being active in my own life, wherever I am, whatever I am doing every day. It also for me brought some accountability for practicing in a routine way even when I don’t feel like it – when I don’t feel much of anything. It has helped me trust the process of spiritual practices, even when I am not moved or inspired.

Interviewer: Spiritual direction has its roots in the contemplative tradition, doesn’t it?

Andrea: Yes, that’s right. I think we can trace its origins back to St. Ignatius. He wrote a book on the spiritual exercises. That’s his legacy, along with all the other things the Jesuits do.

Interviewer: Such as all the schools that have Loyola in their name.

Andrea: That’s one of the things I liked about the program at the Dominican Center, they use Ignatian spirituality as their foundation for how they teach and train. So, it has pretty deep roots.

Interviewer: COS is a church that is actively involved in outreach ministries. How do you see this approach as enriching the life of a church like COS?

Andrea: Contemplatives, like Thomas Merton, for example, would say that contemplation prepares us for action. Contemplation is not just for our own nourishment. It is to nourish us for action. So, I think that it’s a perfect fit with a church that is committed to outreach for keeping us grounded and nourished; it can help prevent burnout and cynicism.

Interviewer: You are going to be starting a program here at COS, right?

Andrea: It will be during Lent. It will be on six Wednesdays. We will spend 45 minutes in lectio divina practice, which is a very specific prayer form. It is very quiet. It is both an individual experience and a group experience, focused on a chosen scripture passage, which is an interesting combination. It’s a very old tradition and for most religious communities, it‘s part of their rule of life.

Interviewer: Do you have a particular audience in mind?

Andrea: No, it’s open to the whole church. Absolutely. when I met with Karen and Chris, there was a real sense that this could be a lovely opportunity for the staff and anyone else who would come. It’s just six weeks; it’s over the lunch hour, so if people work within a proximity of the church, they can get here. We will definitely honor that time frame so if people have a hard stop, they can get to where they need to go next.
We’ll see how it goes. Unfortunately, with Michael and my schedule, I don’t feel very involved here. It’s not because I don’t want to be; it’s because we are not here a lot. Chris said, “You should probably get up and make an announcement after church.” And I said, “I would, but we are not going to be here any Sundays in March.” I’ll be here during the week, but we are often out of town on Sundays.

Interviewer: So, you often travel with Michael then.

Andrea: Now that there are no children at home, I can. There are lots of advancement dinners and events and it works well for us to be there together. As a result, it has been very difficult for us to dive into the life of the church. That is very different for us. Wherever we had been we have always been very involved – we were elders, Sunday school teachers – we did all that. So, it’s a strange feeling not to be doing that. This church is an important place for us – we want to be here. It nourishes us when we are here. I run lectio groups in other places. So, I thought this is something I can do at COS during Lent.

Interviewer: And there are no prerequisites for this, right?

Andrea: No, none. Just a warm body. You don’t have to bring a bible; you don’t have to read anything ahead of time. My role is to facilitate it so that people can experience this prayer form without having to worry about time-keeping and “What do I do?” and “Am I doing it right?”

Interviewer: So, for people for whom this is brand new, who have never tried this before, who are willing to take a risk, this is OK, right?

Andrea: Oh, yeh. It’s very safe. If you are a person that feels drawn to some ideas of contemplation or have read something about it and were moved or at least curious, this is a safe and welcoming place to start.
Interviewer: OK. And thank you for talking with us and for what you will soon be doing!

This interview was conducted by Jim Bradley on February 26, 2019