Many people, lay and ordained, now recognise that it can be helpful to have someone alongside them on their pilgrimage, someone who has the gift of listening creatively to others and who offers a safe place of acceptance and encouragement.
Sometimes this need grows out of a fruitful experience on retreat. Often it can be at a time of crisis, when old patterns are disturbed or when we feel an urge to take seriously our quest for meaning in life and we want to go deeper into our journey of faith. Maybe we want help with our prayer life or to test a particular calling. Maybe we are finding it difficult to deal with events or relationships in our life. This can be a chance to reflect on what has been happening and to put things in perspective.
This is called ‘Spiritual Direction’ or ‘Spiritual Companionship’, but other terms such as ‘Soul Friend’ (from the Celtic tradition) are used. It is available to all who wish to see more clearly where God is at work in their lives.
Most people see their Spiritual Companion once every four to twelve weeks. It may be a long-term relationship or for a limited period. There are no rules about this. The meeting has a sacramental nature, for God uses it as a channel for grace. It calls for a sense of trust, confidentiality and for openness from both, in the knowledge that the meeting takes place in the presence of God.
The purpose is to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the direction. Suggestions may be offered of ways to pray, ideas for helpful reading, as well as practical suggestions relating to life choices, but the final decisions are always left in the hands of the person seeking guidance.
How do you find someone?
In Derby Diocese we have a list of people of different traditions and backgrounds who offer this service and two Portfolio Holders in Spiritual Direction who will help you to find the right person. The choice of a companion is likely to have important consequences in your life. For this reason you might be invited to come for an informal meeting with one of them, so that they could talk with you about your expectations and ‘get a feel’ for the sort of person you would hope for.
To access a spiritual director, please contact:
Revd Nicky Fenton - email@example.com
See also: Spirituality index