On this journey toward becoming a spiritual director I have discovered many new and wonderful disciplines and people. I’ve been introduced to writers I didn’t know and to ideas and practices I had never dreamed of but there is one experience which rises above all others and that is the introduction to other people who have chosen a similar path, and the friendships I have gained on that path.
The numbers in my class at Jubilee have fluctuated around 12. Most of us who started together are still with the program. A few have had to drop off for the time being but they may be able to rejoin another group later. Others have decided it is not for them and moved on. Still others have joined us part way through because they have decided to pick up on their study once again or joined us from another program.
Our little group though is a tight circle of caring and love which welcomes new friends.
The journey together began a little timidly perhaps. We were thrown into a five day intensive in a strange place, with strange people and strange schedules. By the end of the five days we had become comrades who knew a little about one another and looked forward to our next meeting which was to be a year ahead.
A Facebook group kept us in touch and we enjoyed catching little glimpses of each other’s lives on social media.
The second residency was a bit easier because we knew one another and the rhythm of the program. We had new insights and lots to talk about as we moved through the days. By the end of the week we had become fast friends. The bonfire, song and wine we shared on the final night melted us together with common goals and common determination. Our practice of spiritual direction seemed possible and tangible and we had learned to love each other more deeply. We could hardly wait until fall when we would meet again to begin the second year.
As in any group there are people who move more toward one than another and there begin small, tighter groups of friendships. That is a healthy thing as long as no one feels excluded and I hope we managed that. Geography has a little to do with continued friendships and groups that meet so one small group of us have managed to meet a few times and enjoy lunch and sharing about our work. It is wonderful to feel a fond embrace of deep friendship. Another group of us meet regularly for the supervision portion of our requirements and three of us are from the same cohort so again a bond grows and includes more.
I was fortunate enough to travel out of my area on work for a week and met another of our circle on his home ground. It was lovely to know I had some place to touch down in a strange town. I knew my friend would help bring me some solid ground in a week of unknowns. I now have friends all over my home province and some further across the country because of this course. It is nice to think that no matter where I go there will be someone not too far away who might support me if I need it.
The hardest day for my group will be our parting at the end of this course in the fall. It is endings and beginnings all wound together. Finding a venue where we can again have that sort of camaraderie will be difficult and we all know that even while we make efforts to stay in touch they will fade but our love for one another will never fade. Will move from that place to new places, with warm memories and unending love even if we never meet again.
As the Jubilee community grows we are hoping to incorporate in the ongoing support for the program opportunities for alumni to increase their learning and to have the advantage of community. Your input and insights are welcome.
Lavender Fields of Norfolk County, Ontario
Photo by Peggy Guiler