At the end of the month we will be going to Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. for our third and final retreat of the academic year. Each retreat has a focus. The first one, “My Soul Within Me,” concentrated on the Breath Prayer and praying lectio over a Signature Scripture. The second one, “Praying Our Challenges and Triumphs” used the tools to let God do his formation work on us by processing key moments in our lives. This final retreat is designed to give us time and space to develop the Art of Soul Friendship. We introduced Soul Friendship from the first seminar so that by the time of the retreat you would have the comfort of familiarity. You have experienced Soul Friendship now in a variety of settings covering many topics related to your spiritual wellness. At the Abbey we will practice our skills in a monastic setting rich in beauty and tradition.
I’m excited to share with you what I found in my reading this week. On pages 252-3 of Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster writes about both spiritual friendship and the value of small groups. On spiritual friendship, he says:
Some, in their ongoing life in the way of Christ, have found it helpful to seek out individuals who could mentor them in the things of the Spirit. Spiritual Director is the old term for this; others use the term spiritual friend. Personally, I prefer to speak of a spiritual mentor. Spiritual mentors are people gifted in discernment, wisdom and knowledge. Their task is to help people see the footprints of God in their lives and, now and again, to urge them to move in directions they might not go otherwise.
On small group spiritual formation:
One model of Christian community that shows tremendous potential for the future is small group spiritual formation. This is an approach that seeks to provide both nurture and accountability. I… meet weekly with a small group of four whose goal is to help each other become better disciples of Jesus. We do this by means of five questions: …What experiences of prayer and meditation have you had this week? What temptations did you face this week? What movements of the Holy Spirit did you experience this week? What opportunities to serve others have you had this week? In what ways have you encountered Christ in your study of the Bible this week?(Emphasis added).
What would it be like to have that kind of ongoing spiritual mentorship? Either one on one or in a small group, I love those five questions. Can you see yourself using them in your Soul Friendship visits?