Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Disciplines (part 5)

   I was going to write the next post, in this series, on solitude, but I just got back from meeting with a friend of mine who reminded me of the importance of spiritual direction in it’s many forms.

He and I are roughly the same age, and (I would like to think) roughly in the same area of spiritual maturity. We talked for about an hour and a half telling our own stories, asking questions and listening to responses – both from each other, and from the Spirit of God.

My friend said something in the course of our time together that I know was from the Spirit. It was a word that spoke to my heart and my circumstances. It was a word that came from listening to me, and then listening to God, discerning where he was at work in me. He simply asked me a question, “Did I see any connection between this thing and that one? I hadn’t, really, until then. But there it was as plain as day. And boy, did I need it.

Now, I won’t go into details about what we were talking about, both because it was about my own personal circumstances, and because I don’t need to for this to illustrate what I am talking about.

My friend had done what any good “soul friend”, or spiritual director does.

1. Listen. Both to me, and to what the Spirit was pointing out.

2. Ask questions. Questions prompted by things I had said, asking for clarification, expansion, and connection.

3. Not have all the answers. And even if he thought he did have the answers, having the good sense not to share them, letting me come to see it myself, and then…

4. Let me think it through with God.

I need folks in my life like this. I need folks who know how to listen and discern where God is at work in me and around me. So do we all.

If you don’t have someone like this in your life, stop whatever you’re doing and find one. Pray that God will bring one into your life ASAP.

Yes, it really is that important. But don’t take my word for it. Edward Sellner tells this story of St. Brigit,

A young cleric of the community of Ferns, a foster-son of Brigit’s, used to come to her with dainties. He was often with her in the refectory to partake of food. Once after going to communion she strikes a clapper. “Well, young cleric there”, says Brigit, “do you have a soul friend?”. “I have”, replied the young man. “Let us sing his requiem”, says Brigit. “Why so?” asks the young cleric. “For he has died”, says Brigit. “When you had finished half your ration I saw that he was dead”. “How did you know that?” “Easy to say, (Brigit replies) from the time that your soul friend was dead, I saw that your food was put (directly) in the trunk of your body, since you were without any head. Go forth and eat nothing until you get a soul friend, for anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head: is like the water of a polluted lake, neither good for drinking nor for washing. That is the person without a soul friend”.


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