By Effie Caldarola, Catholic News Service     11/19/2014

 I don’t have a personal trainer. I have a friend who just completed coursework to be a personal trainer, but I don’t think that counts. No, when I force myself to get on the stationary bike that sits, often idly, in my garage, I have no one to explain my physiology to me or to design an exercise plan to better serve me.don’t have a housekeeper. Though many of my friends have weekly cleaning ladies, I can’t imagine feeling that flush. Maybe it’s because I actually like to clean, although if you dropped in unexpectedly you might question me on that.

I didn’t have a wedding planner when we got married. I’m not sure the occupation existed back then.

I didn’t have an interior decorator when we moved into our house, but I found a lot of inspiration at garage sales.

My children didn’t have nannies. I stayed home, and traded children off with my friends when I needed some time.

Did I mention my children didn’t have bottles?

I don’t have a hair-coloring expert either. Actually, the woman who cuts my hair probably qualifies, but instead we talk about how much highlights will cost when I finally get ready to shell out the cash and what box at the grocery store will keep me happy in the meantime. Usually, I just live with my increasing gray. Some days I think it makes me look aged, and other days I’m pleased by the way it mellows my features.

I’m a basic, no-frills gal.

But I do have one thing that might sound pretentious to some. I have a spiritual director.

A few years ago, I might have thought that sounded strange. Well, ex-c-u-u-u-se me. Don’t saints and cloistered nuns have spiritual directors?

Yes, I’m sure they do, but nowadays the concept is increasingly common among lay people as well. In our archdiocese, our retreat and spirituality center has a program to train spiritual directors, and most of those trained are lay people.

Ordinary Catholics are yearning for a prayer life, and many are happy to have a little guidance along this journey.

Have you ever felt your prayer was going around in circles? Have you ever wondered if you’re listening to God or listening only to your own troubles? Is God suggesting something to you in prayer, but you’re not sure? Do you want help to structure your prayer, deepen it, connect it to your life’s journey?

Those are the reasons I sought out a spiritual director, and I’ve had one for nearly 20 years.

A spiritual director is not a therapist, nor is she (or he) a person who will engage in intellectual debate or tutor you about theology or the church, at least not as part of spiritual direction. A spiritual director helps you hear what God is speaking to your heart. She questions and probes you, she suggests things you might wish to explore in prayer.

To find a trained spiritual director, call a local retreat center, your parish or your diocesan chancery. Meet with the person to see if the two of you fit. Some spiritual directors charge a fee; some do it as part of their parish responsibilities.

As I make my life’s pilgrimage, like any journey, I like a map or a guidebook. It’s even better to have someone walk with me to help when I come to a fork in the road.