The spiritual elder—or the abba, the amma—is the one who has journeyed along the way of the desert. The spiritual director is the one who has survived the desert and, therefore, can speak both with confidence and with compassion, with authority and with charity alike. The spiritual elder can provide guidelines against the pitfalls and pointers to places of refreshment. The way, of course, always remains personal; each of us follows a way that we carve out for ourselves. Yet the journey is social; we travel together with a sense of community.…In this journey, the spiritual guide should be as dry as the desert. The elder should be characterized by discernment.…The abba or amma should never block the way; they should never steal the limelight. They should never stand out, but always stand beside us. In fact, they should be characterized by few words, by the same golden virtues of the desert: namely, silence and fasting. The spiritual director is not a tourist-guide, but a fellow traveler on the same path.