“Anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head.” St. Brigid

Today is Halloween, leading to All Saints Day and All Souls Day this weekend. My thoughts are with those who have been and are saints, people who carry Light, in my life.

I have always had people touching my life whom I admire for their goodness, their wisdom, their accomplishments, their spirit. I come from a family of folk who “loved to do Jesus’ will,” as the old hymn sings. I have had particular pastors and professors and spiritual directors who saw things in me that were beyond my ken, and were able and willing to engage with me and accompany me on my journey of becoming. I have surrounded myself in books and articles with many of the elders and sages of the past who have both deepened and challenged my belief systems and also my actions that incarnate those beliefs. More recently I have delighted in delving into the the character and witness of people named by their communities as saints, like Julian and Mechtild, and Brigid and Gobnait. This “cloud of witnesses” has taught me that I am not alone in my pilgrimage, and that I continue have much to learn from the adventurous faithfulness of others!

My primary formal ministry in this season of my life is a calling to be a spiritual friend, a soul friend to people one a journey of Spirit. I have been mentored in this sacred practice by beloved saints, some of who are still on this earth, others who have left us for new life with the Holy One. I am grateful for the academic work, for the practice. for the supervision, for the shared sense of call. I hold my calling gently, with awe, and without presumption. To listen to the odyssey of Spirit through the pain and fancy, tame and wild, quotidian and dramatic course of the life of another is a gift that I give, and one that I receive. This sacred weekend I recognize that soul work is reciprocal; to be welcomed and trusted by another soul is to be blessed in ways that I could not have imagined.

There is a model of spiritual friendship or direction that designates one person in the relationship to be the director or elder and the other to be the seeker for a committed period of time. I treasure this relationship, one that I offer and one that I receive. However, I am deeply aware that at this time in our world, we are a mobile people and everything around us changes swiftly. This week in California we are surrounded by fires–fire that evacuate people for days, that ruin homes, that tie up traffic and foul the air. For some their world is forever altered–new normal, new locations, and new fears and perspectives on the fragility of our lives. Alongside that, I am finding that even without catastrophe things change–people move away, contemporaries die, health declines, sensibilities alter–and it is not so easy to form or maintain long term stable relationships.

So this Sacred Weekend I am noticing. savoring, celebrating the saints/soul friends of a moment:

  • the childhood friend that reconnected with me on social media for one or two moment of sacred memory
  • the person whom I had just met, sitting down for a coffee to listen to a story with compassion
  • a young adult seeking the way of Spirit for a challenging family crisis
  • a person of years of wisdom and experience sharing a piece of holy history that deepens both my perspective and prayer
  • a helper who not only gives me some great service, but spices it with humor and grace

I give deep thanks for the saints of God, some of whom are soul friends, who share my journey, past and present; who challenge me to do course correction when I am in a blind alley; who keep holding me to the Light of Hope, when so much seems hazy and bleary. Alleluia for the countless hosts of saints and soul friends who surround me and keep energizing the healing of the world!