By Rev. Greg Little
As reported in the Huron Church News (June 2016), in her address to Synod, Bishop Linda Nicholls declared that there are no “quick fixes” for the challenges facing our church in Huron and everywhere.
She declared that, “We do need spiritual wisdom and revelation. My prayer is that God will provide that wisdom as we come to know him as we pay attention to our own spiritual lives”.
To put this in action, Bishop Linda encouraged each person in the room, and by implication every Anglican in Huron, “to commit to one new way of deepening your knowledge of Christ this year!” She suggested ways of doing this such as joining a bible study, participating in an Education for Ministry group, and going on retreat.
Bishop Linda also recommended that people find a spiritual director. It is my experience that many people in Huron are not familiar with spiritual directors and spiritual direction. I thought it would be helpful to some readers to provide an introduction to the practice of spiritual direction which I hope will encourage people to explore this spiritual practice as a way of enhancing their experience of God.
First I will share with you a bit about my background. I am an Anglican priest in Huron who retired from full-time parish ministry a few years ago. I am a 2014 graduate of the spiritual direction program offered by the Haden Institute through the Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre in Niagara Falls. Through the auspices of Rev. Canon Todd Townshend, Dean of Theology at Huron University College and working with Rev. Canon Greg Smith, Director of Field Education, Worship, Community and Formation, I have been offering spiritual direction to students in the Faculty of Theology, beginning first as part of my training and continuing once I completed the program. I also work with lay and ordained people outside the Huron College context.
With that, let me give you some information about spiritual direction and spiritual directors. A spiritual director is somewhat misnamed, as a spiritual director doesn’t actually direct. It is the Holy Spirit—the third person in the room—who directs the session. A spiritual director is a companion on your journey as you deepen your relationship with God. A spiritual director/companion shares your hopes, your struggles, your successes, and your losses and may help you on your journey to:
- Identify and trust your own experiences of God, recognizing God’s unending love for you
- Act with continued integrity and participation in your religious tradition
- Integrate spirituality into your daily life
- Discern and then make difficult choices
- Develop a sensitivity for justice and the concerns for the poor and compassion for those you meet in everyday life
The most important thing in your journey is LOVE. The spiritual companion can help you to understand and appreciate how the love of God in Jesus Christ can be recognized more fully and shared with others.
Through exploring different forms of prayer and ways of appreciating God’s presence in your life such as Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, walking the labyrinth and dreams you can become more aware and open to how God’s love is working within and around you. You can be helped to discover those aspects of yourself that are keeping you from knowing God more fully. In turn you can then share that love by being open and compassionate to others.
As St. Paul tells us, there are many members but one body. Each of us will have different ways in which we are open to the Holy Spirit. A spiritual companion can help you to identify the ways in which God through the Holy Spirit is active in your life and how you can be open to deepening and expanding your experience of God’s love and wisdom. Blessings on your journey.
Rev. Greg Little is retired priest in the Diocese of Huron
(Featured photo: Alexbruda, RGB Stocks)