The early days of my teenage years were when I first attended a local youth group at the church in our neighbourhood. The minister was what I probably now would call a radical Christian socialist – a humble, godly, deeply spiritual man with compassion and understanding that went deep and learning that stretched far. He was inspiring and other-worldly…awesome, they say today. He had served abroad in a developing country and was appalled at the waste and excess in our society when he returned here – so much so that he gave back a large part of his already meagre stipend. He lived frugally; his wife and children were equally part of a passionate mission to educate, inform, and inspire a simplicity of living inspired by their faith.
Connecting with this man and his family was a pivotal moment for me. I didn’t know it, of course at the time, but I saw and experienced for the first time what it could mean to live a principled life.
He spoke with great care and quiet potency. His words were incarnational.
He became a soul guide and in time introduced me to others like him and his family. He was the first truly wise guide whom I encountered and his voice became a companion on my inner dialogue of exploration and self discovery.
But over the years the link lessened and his presence and guidance were replaced by others and eventually by my experience of different accompaniers in the persons of my therapists. They became my guides and fellow explorers in a new way and enterprise. The journey was now even more of an inner exploration, a true searching of the soul, and heart, and yes of mind too. The mere presence of the other – the therapeutic presence – replaced or augmented the modelling that I think had been so influential in my early years.
I like to think that I travel cautiously now in my work as a therapist, conscious of the immense privilege I have in sharing the tender and personal journeys of others, and mindful of the potential power of my voice in their inner world.