SPIRITUAL DIRECTION (COMPANIONING)
The care and growth of souls.
What is a Soul Friend or spiritual companion (traditionally called spiritual director)?
We are those who accompany others along the spiritual journey of life. We offer sacred presence including amid uncertainty. We help others explore and deepen their unfolding sense of meaning, purpose, healing wholeness, spiritual practices, sacred identity and awareness. This includes one’s relationship with others, self, the rest of creation, and the larger reality of which we are part which many call God. In the words of Eugene Peterson, spiritual guides and companions help others recognize and respond to God’s presence in their lives.
As an Anam Cara (the age old Celtic term for Soul Friend) or spiritual guide and companion, I offer compassionate presence, holy listening, and support. For some this includes finding themselves in need of sifting through long-held beliefs and conditioned ways of thinking about God, others and self which they may have out grown. As John Mabry notes, we are also those whom people turn to because they’ve had a mystical experience—be it in waking life or dream, and need a safe someone who will take them seriously (See John Mabry's Starting Spiritual Direction: a guide to getting ready, feeling safe, and getting the most out of your sessions).
Finally, as a trained spiritual guide, meditation and mindfulness coach, yoga instructor, contemplative prayer companion, Episcopal priest, and both inter-spiritual and Christian chaplain, I can work with you to create spiritual practices tailored to your needs. All that said, I am not a psychotherapist though it is not unusual for a client to partner with me while being in therapy.
A bit about me so you can discern whether I may be a good fit as your spiritual companion or Anam Cara (Celtic for Soul Friend): For over a quarter century I've been offering spiritual care, healing, guidance, and meditative mind-body-spirit practices to highly diverse religious, secular, and spiritual-but-not-religious folks including among clergy, college students, faculty, and staff. I'm a down to earth inter-spiritual college chaplain, Episcopal priest, edge walker, and calm yet positive energy type wired as mystic and artist. Joy for me is felt with family including my dog Oban, rising early to savor dawn, and sensing the Sacred on quiet morning runs alongside open Iowa fields and beneath soaring hawks and vast sky.
Beyond a doctorate of ministry in Christian Spirituality, 3 decades of inter-faith, inclusion and diversity activism, and bunches of certifications in mindfulness related practices, training also includes 9 years and 3.5 academic degrees examining the not so peaceful reality of human suffering. Specifically the interface of Holocaust theology, spirituality, and related topics around the very human healing need to express grief, doubt, fear, as well as unedited and sometimes raw big questions about life meaning, Divine power and Presence amid suffering. How there is need to do this without want of pat answers or dogma until there is no longer desire for asking, or trying to solve and micro manage mystery. How it often turns out that the meaning we really seek is not found in answers but in the freedom to question and in experience of presence, love and healing beauty.
I eventually quit my PhD in theology of suffering after 9 years of pursuit. I did so in embrace of Mystery, present moment East-West contemplative wisdom, and so that I could be love and an extension of healing Presence. Doing that by becoming a mom and also as chaplain, teacher, spiritual healer and companion for others including through offering mindfulness training, mind-body-spirit practices, energy work, and soulful landscape paintings to help people experience healing wholeness.
Still, that previous training is partly why I’ve been trusted as spiritual companion including for grieving parents and the likes of those who can't bring themselves to step foot in a synagogue, mosque, temple, or church--yet who still seek Sacramental presence, soul care, and healing wholeness through an open, loving, accepting non black and white thinking clergyperson and spiritual and Soul Friend on the life journey.
If you sense resonance, email me. We can explore whether I may be the presence and support you seek. No problem amid pandemic to meet virtually or by phone.
Rev. Dr. Catherine Quehl-Engel
Photo: Indwelling Light by Rev CQE, Sri Ramana Ashram Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu