Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faithfrom Hebrews 12.1-2 (NRSV)
It is good to remind ourselves of the pattern of Jesus and his encouragement on the way, and of the crowd cheering us on. It is also very helpful to have one person alongside us. Variously known as a Spiritual Director, Guide, or the beautiful term Anam Cara or Soul Friend, they are not expected to be directive and will not finish the race for us. But they will share the journey and help us notice where God is active in our relationship of prayer and in our daily lives.
The Exeter Diocese website has a helpful introduction: “They provide a confidential listening ear, as well as prayer, encouragement and guidance in the life-long journey of spiritual maturity. They offer a safe space to explore questions and difficulties and offer companionship during a period of discernment or change.”
The Diocese is very clear that having a spiritual director is FOR EVERYONE. Anyone can ask through the Spiritual Direction Referral Service. A soul friend could be lay or ordained, male or female, near at hand or requiring a journey, of your own or a different tradition. I heartily recommend finding one. It may take time to discern the right person for you, but worth the effort. According to St Brigid, “anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head!”
Maybe exploring the possibility of a spiritual director could be part of a Lenten devotion. Alternatively, or in addition, Lent is a good season to set aside all that hinders us on the journey by making our Sacramental Confession.
Confession is differentiated from spiritual direction but some directors may offer it. In Exeter Cathedral there will be an opportunity in Holy Week – keep an eye on the Weekly Sheet for information. Or contact the Pastoral Care leads in confidence to request it.
God bless you as you persevere on your journey.
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5.11 (NRSV)