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The Prayer Seeker


It was only as they were paying up that Douglas tapped him on the shoulder, and
asked the question Michael didn’t think anyone would have the courage to ask.
“So, how’s the prayer life going, eh? Is it what you expected?”
Michael smiled. Neither was a straightforward question to answer and both were
ones he could step round if he wished but, to his surprise, he found that he didn’t.
“Slowly,” he said, “if I’m honest. And it’s not so far what I expected at all, though I
couldn’t explain exactly what that might have been. I’ve spent some time thinking, I’ve
had a conversation with my local vicar and I’m seeing what’s called a spiritual director
on Monday. I’m hoping he’ll be able to help. Or at least set me on a path that might make
sense.”
When he’d finished speaking, Michael wondered if he should have said it was fine
and things were progressing well, and if that was in fact what Douglas had wanted to
hear. But his former boss simply nodded, almost as if what he’d revealed might have
meant something to anyone other than himself.
“Sounds like progress to me, Michael,” he replied. “I wish you all the best with it.”
Michael carried the generosity of those words with him on the way home and all the
way through the next couple of days until his appointment with Chris McMinn arrived.
*****
At first encounter, his would-be spiritual director was as far removed from his local
vicar as it was possible to be. Chris McMinn was a small, dapper man whose accent
betrayed his Scottish roots and who lived in a modern, airy flat where the theory of
minimalism had been taken very much to heart. Michael sat in a brown leather armchair,
modern in style, upon a cream-coloured carpet. Neither were expensive, but both were
tastefully chosen. Chris sat slightly offset and opposite him, in an identical chair. The
only other furniture in the room was a glass coffee-table that sparkled in the sunlight
from the two vast picture windows looking out onto a calm and elegant garden. The table
held a bible, nothing more.
Chris nodded, as if Michael had spoken, but he hadn’t.
“Yes,” he said. “I like to live simply. It gives me space to breathe. Clutter deadens
the soul, you know.”
Michael thought for a moment of his own surroundings and wondered if that indeed
might be true.
“All right,” Chris said, evidently not requiring an answer. “I understand from our
telephone call that John referred you to me, and the purpose of this conversation is to see
if we both feel that meeting together on a regular basis might be of benefit to your
spiritual life. Let me first set out what kind of spiritual direction I offer and what I don’t. I
can’t emphasise enough that it’s not counselling and it’s not psychotherapy. By trade, as
well as being a retired vicar I was also a Jungian psychoanalyst. Those factors naturally
colour how I might guide our co nversations, but they are not what this is about. I
understand that you’re seeking a different or a renewed relationship with God, and
spiritual direction is a means to enable that process. Together, if we both see that as the
best way forward, we’ll look at your prayer life, the kind of faith you have, the aspects of
God you find easy or difficult, and how to work towards a better relationship with Him.
We might also look at church-going and how that affects you, but it isn’t a requirement.
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