What is Spiritual Companionship?

Welcome, whoever you are, from whatever tradition (or none), to an exploration of  spiritual accompaniment or spiritual direction.

This is for anyone who would like a companion, someone alongside, as you live this life with its doubts and certainties, its highs and lows, hoping for glimpses of Divine presence along the way. There is a long tradition in our British Isles of such support – the soul friend or anam cara (Irish) or periglour (Welsh) has been a key feature of Celtic Christianity.  Eastern and western church traditions have found spiritual direction a beneficial spiritual practice for clergy and lay alike. Now in the twenty-first century, more and more of us are sensing the nudge to invite an encouraging and wise companion to come alongside us on life’s challenging journey.  

Here’s what some have said: 

"Spiritual companionship is a relationship in which a companion allows through deep listening the spiritual story of the other to unfurl." (www.sdiworld.org)

"History shows that throughout the centuries followers of the way of Christ have sought help from mature Christians who had a deep capacity to listen with their hearts, were familiar with the signposts and struggles on the Christian journey towards holiness, and who could, when familiar landmarks disappeared in the darkness, provide a strong beacon to keep the light of God alive."  (Pickering, S., Spiritual Direction: an introduction, 2008)

"Each of us needs a soul friend, … who will guide us in growing in the likeness of God … marked more and more distinctly by faith, hope, and love." (Mary C. Earle, Celtic Christian Spirituality, 2012)

"Spiritual direction is a way of meeting with someone - a spiritual director or guide - to share your thoughts and reflections about your faith" (The Retreat Assn, www.retreats.org.uk)

"A place where tired bodies and spirits are warmed by the [camp]fire and refreshed… The job of the spiritual director is to keep the fire burning, because one never knows when a traveller will come to sit." (Simon Brown, cited in Pickering,S., Spiritual Direction, 2008)

How does it work?

On receiving your enquiry, our contact person will put you in touch with a someone who has completed a formation process and has experience in spiritual accompaniment. You may then have an initial conversation with her or him to explore whether you might meet regularly. The companion would commit to accompany you in one-to-one sessions, usually six- to eight-weekly, either in person, or online, or even by phone. Each session can last up to an hour.

Your companion will listen to you and listen with you as you reflect on what happens (or doesn't happen) in your prayer and everyday life. Your relationship with God is the focus, and so anything from your life situation is therefore relevant to a deepening exploration of faith.

Who are the spiritual companions or directors?

Those in our network for spiritual accompaniment are from all walks of life, a range of ages, women and men, from various Christian traditions and are found in most corners of Warwickshire and Coventry. The service they provide is ecumenical and broad in its base,  firmly committed to the Christ of the Gospels and  ‘finding God in all things’.

A spiritual companion is experienced in the art of listening with another to the Spirit's direction. The agenda is God’s; the journey is yours. The companion holds a sacred space for your relationship with God to deepen and broaden. They are not relationship counsellors, or workplace coaches, career advisers or therapists, though all those aspects of support may come up in conversations, and they can point you to appropriate experts for support. They hold whatever they hear in confidence, in line with the constraints of safeguarding.

Spiritual companions are formed locally or nationally through training teams, with required hours of practice, ongoing refreshment and development seminars and retreat days. They are supervised in their work, and review their ministry with another regularly. Appropriate safeguarding training and DBS checks are mandatory, and all our companions commit to a Code of Practice.

Spiritual directors, companions, soul friends receive spiritual direction themselves, and are required to receive supervision of their accompaniment, either on a one to one basis, or in a peer group.

Most companions offer this ‘soul friendship’ in their spare time as volunteers. They may also contribute to local retreats, or quiet days, or spiritual formation groups, and contemplative church services, alongside their everyday lives as engineers, home-makers, retired people,  charity workers, university lecturers, or accountants.

But what is it you are looking for?  What is happening for you these days?

  • We all grow and change. When we stop and reflect, we realize our understanding of the Divine is shifting - Someone is calling us on. You may want a place where you can think aloud, or explore new ways of prayer that fit your current situation in life.
  • We are busy. Work, family, friends, occupy so much of our time and attention. We may have an uneasy sense that we've sidelined our relationship with God. You may be waiting for a safe place to unload and gain perspective.
  • Life happens. Good things, sad things, perplexing things. Sometimes we just have to stuff them in a cupboard for later.  Perhaps it’s time to open the cupboard door and look at some of the 'stuff' with God.
  • We have a decision to make. Choices constantly confront us. How do you discern the road to take? Where might you hear God’s voice in fresh ways?
  • God is simply nudging you. 'Come away with me to a quiet place and rest for a while,' (Mark 6:31).  Or 'What do you want me to do for you?' (Mark 10:51).
  • Perhaps it has been recommended. A friend, an organisation, a colleague, a workplace -  the advice is to embark on regular spiritual conversations for support and accountability. Perhaps this centuries-tested practice will hit the spot.

How do I access it?

Spiritual accompaniment is available and free to anyone who seeks it. You need not even attend a church. The list of trained spiritual companions is held in confidence. At present there are around 60 people trained to offer this support within our area, free of charge.

The contact person who holds the list is currently Mrs Lesley Lee who can be contacted at lesleylee4@hotmail.co.uk

If you wish to be placed with a spiritual companion, please email Lesley suggesting a few times which you could be available for a 10-15 minute phone call. After speaking with you, Lesley will put you in touch with someone for an initial conversation.

And then?

The first meeting with the spiritual companion is an informal conversation to make sure you both feel you can work together on your spiritual journey with God. After this, you are both free to discern whether the relationship will be beneficial, and then to decide how often to meet.

The relationship will be reviewed regularly, and either party is free to leave the arrangement at any stage. Should you come to the end of your time with this spiritual companion, we will be pleased to help pair you with another.

Wanting more information? 

If you are interested in finding a spiritual companion, please contact Mrs Lesley Lee at lesleylee4@hotmail.co.uk

Perhaps you just want to have a chat with someone about spiritual accompaniment – to understand better what you would be committing to?  Again, contact Lesley for a talk by phone or online.

If you are interested in becoming a spiritual companion, please contact Reverend Craig Groocock (Spirituality Advisor) at Kankudai43@aol.co.uk

Spiritual direction describes “the companionship given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship."   (Wm A. Barry and Wm J. Connolly)

It’s like having an encouraging and wise companion come alongside on life’s challenging journey


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