I Am On a Lonely Road, and I Am Traveling …

Funny how we think of past associations when moving into the future. I’ve had the chorus to Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” stuck in my head ever since I decided to start this new blog. It’s my way of journaling what happens as I move through the program leading to certification as a spiritual director. Class begins April 29 at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

I confess to being both excited and terrified. On the one hand, I have long been captured by the vision of Celtic monks and nuns such as St. Bridget, who lived in the midst of the people and offered them spiritual companionship. They were “pilgrims in place” together, living in community while traveling a spiritual road. They were at times in need of a guide as to how to proceed, which is what the monks and nuns provided. To become an “anamchara,” or “soul friend,” is something that I’ve been drawn to for many years.

At the same time, I’m awestruck at the thought of helping to guide someone to a deeper relationship with God. All my life I’ve been hiding my essential insecurity behind a front of great bravado, and now all that is about to be stripped away. Instead of being the out-front leader, my task will be to move back, to become the person who counsels and supports another as he or she travels the way toward God.

I don’t know if I can do it. I had tons of “head knowledge,” but I’m terribly unsure of my emotional intelligence. Thanks to a six-month session of therapy myself, I’ve just come to terms with how to feel and confront my own emotions. How will I ever learn to recognize what others are going through, and to know when to question, guide, prod or push?

Much, much prayer and study is in the offing. Companions along this journey will be greatly appreciated.

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