Walk with me

IMG_2036It’s been a tough week in the Curate’s cage. There have been endings with which to contend – congregation members and former colleagues who need prayer as they sit with the dying, a friend moving away (ironically they will be close to my ‘home’ in the Midlands). I’ve felt sad as I have encountered situations which resonate professionally and press well-worn buttons personally. These are the places where the Psalmists speak for me, where I am grateful for Thursday Morning Prayer with the lovely T-Cup cafe people, who let me lament my way through Psalm 88 (set for today) and then prayed and praised their way and mine through joyful intercession.  Because there have been beginnings too, people met for the first time, and old friends encountered in new and deeper ways.

I’ve finally met with my new Spiritual Director this week. A Spiritual Director is a strange beast as far as I am concerned – a mixture of friend, headmaster and priest (noting that you don’t have to be ordained to offer Spiritual Direction). I expect to be supported, challenged and loved in approximately equal measure by a Spiritual Director – and at different times of life I need different proportions. But at its best, it’s a relationship which works both ways. Today’s meeting was tentative first steps (not so tentative actually, but I won’t bore you with detail), but as the relationship continues, and trust builds, the support, challenge and love goes both ways. A Spiritual Director moves to become a soul friend (horrid expression, but one which perhaps denotes an honest relationship encompassing discernment, criticism, encouragement and “being with”, all working both ways). Two people share their joys and sorrows, and try to find what God is up to.

This might not be the textbook notion of a Spiritual Director. But I asked if they would be consider taking the role, and I was asked what characteristics I was looking for. When I replied that I need an “evil minded cynical bastard who won’t let me hide”, the response was instant. “I’ll do it”. After all, text book notions only take us so far into real life. We are all human.

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2 responses to “Walk with me

  1. I have had the benefit of an SD for 3 years now. A retired Priest who is well into his seventies. He said to me the first time we me. I won’t be around for ever, so don’t get to comfortable (chipping in that he didn’t intend to let me get that comfortable). His wife had died a couple of years before, perhaps a reminder of his own mortality. He had a minor heart attack just over a year ago and I was berift. It was as if my Father, Mother, Brother and Sister all rolled into one were on the critical list. Happily he came through it, but decided to reduce his SD ministry. Fortunately, he allowed me to stay and I was privileged.

    He has seen me through the ups and downs of the discernment process, through a faculty process (I’d been divorced many years before) and has been, along with my spouse and former Vicar one of the three mainstays and supports in my progress, growth as a Christian and indeed formation for anything that God might be throwing my way (I wish he’d do it soon, as perseverance doesn’t really suit me).

    Wisdom, compassion, humility a sense of humour and a hard edge when it’s needed if I’m feeling extra sorry for myself. We have laughed and cried together at times but it has been a relationship built on trust, respect and a mutual love of God which has sustained it for so long.

    To my mind, he’s a Saint, but I’d better not tell him, or he’ll get a swollen head 🙂

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