‘For most of my life, I see now with hindsight, there was a large and solid wall, firmly dividing my experience of God from my experience of every-day living. God, as far as he figured at all in my scheme of things was ‘Sunday business’ and the business of Monday to Saturday had a considerably bigger share of my attention.’(Margaret Silf in the Preface to her book ‘Taste and See’.
This maybe something which we also have been conscious of in our own Christian journey. Indeed we may still be aware of that spiritually empty Monday to Friday feeling.
Throughout my own journey towards ordained ministry, I often felt a longing for a much closer relationship with God, and one which had to go beyond Sunday. I discerned a calling to ministry fairly late in bringing up a family, and having a career. Consequently, many things both in my daily life, and in the past, needed to be made sense of. I needed to understand where God had been in it all.
Whilst prayer, reading scripture, and other faith related activities were all very helpful, I wished I could share, and explore, my thoughts, and feelings with another Christian who would listen, and give me some guidance. I needed a companion, or guide, to journey with me along the path of my Christian life, who could help me make that connection between God and daily life, and remind me that more than ever before, I could not leave my faith in a jam jar at the Church door, until the following Sunday.
Since I began to discern a calling to ministry, I have had what is called a spiritual director. Directors can also be called companions or guides. My experience of having such a guide has enabled me to come much closer to God, and what he wants for me in my life and ministry. With the help of a director, I have become aware of not only how uplifting, and wonderful my relationship with God can be, but also just how much by going my own way, I can grow away from him, and exclude him at those times when I most need him.
It may be that some of what I have written is familiar to you, and you feel you might benefit from having someone to accompany you in your Christian journey. If so, you may find it helpful to ask yourself some of the following questions.
Do I want a much closer relationship with God to make my Sunday experience real, and relevant, to the rest of the week, but I am not sure how I do this on my own? How can I talk to God in prayer, beyond using familiar set prayers which do not seem relevant to whatever else is going on? Do I want to understand where God is, or has been in the complexities of my life? Do I want God to be the focus in all I do, all that I want to do, and all that I want to be, but could do with some else to talk to about this?
Finally a few facts. Spiritual direction or guidance is not confined just to those who consider they have a calling to ministry. It is open to anyone wishing to deepen their faith. The word ‘director’ can be misleading. The director never
‘directs’. The director is there to guide, and assist the directee in finding his or her way with God.
After an introductory conversation, either party decides whether it would be appropriate, and beneficial to continue. If either side does not feel comfortable in continuing, there is no obligation to do so, and no judgement of either person is intended. This also applies to the relationship at any time. Director and directee, meet at intervals negotiated at the start of the relationship. Finally, the content of all conversations is entirely confidential.
With every blessing
Rev Margaret Woodgates