Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Our world is in desperate need of spiritual directors. Parishioners are rarely shepherded. Few leaders are mature enough to sit with suffering. God’s beloveds need to be tended, their tears gathered, their hard and holy stories carried close. We are in a fascinating time spiritually. Some are leaving. Some are exploring. Many are walking away from their church community after covid19, and yet, they are still longing for intimacy with God. They are desperate to sit with a listener who can position them with Jesus and help them to walk through these strange times. Others are searching but desire to look for God, not in a stadium, but in the midst of a trustworthy relationship.
When Belinda Kent (cohort A) knocked on our door once a month for spiritual direction during our Pittsburgh year, I watched her weave classic spiritual direction with the knowledge she was gaining through Healing Care Ministries’ Spiritual Formation and the Art of Spiritual Direction. I was raw after a difficult move. Belinda held my stories with kindness, allowing me to grieve the transition and discover the places, often hidden to me, where God was at work. Our time together that year around my grandmother’s cherry table was filled with take-off-your-shoes-holy-moments. Through Belinda, God was meeting me in my wilderness.
I had sensed a calling to spiritual direction from seminary where many of my colleagues had gone to the Shalem Institute just across town. I promised myself I’d get my certificate sometime in the future. Then came pastoring and three kids in five years. I had no idea what school would be a good fit. After my direction sessions with Belinda were over, I’d grill her. OK, so what are you reading? Tell me about your residency. I’d pour us a huge pot of tea so I could hear every detail. We had both lived in Western Michigan the year before and shared rides back and forth to Ashland. We were already friends.
I had been coming to Healing Care Ministries as often as possible since 2007 and by our move to Pittsburgh, had taught eight healing care groups while pastoring a church in South Haven, MI with my husband. Every year, as I led a group with Kathy Sicard and Marie Diebold, the Lord did a new work in me as well. I was slowly being transformed from someone paralyzed with social anxiety to a person soft with compassion. Soon pastors in our area were asking us to open the doors of our groups to their parishioners as well.
After we moved to Pittsburgh, I began doing spiritual direction with students at the area Anglican seminary. Very quickly, I came up against my lack of skills and knowledge. I slipped into a fixing posture too often. I depended on my own stories. I was quick to give advice. I enrolled in Healing Care’s spiritual direction school. Even better, I invited my mom to enroll as well.
These days my mom, Beth Myers, and I shake our heads. We can’t imagine life without this powerful skillset, asking good questions to friends over coffee, creating space for people to feel seen in our direction office, even strengthening our marriages and making our children feel heard. These are not just spiritual direction skills that are being taught by SF-SD, we are convinced these are the life-skills and spiritual disciplines of a mature person in Christ.
Over the last four years, I’ve had the privilege of creating a spiritual direction and teaching ministry leading twice-monthly retreats and small groups, giving one-on-one spiritual direction, podcasting and writing. I’ve called this ministry The Presence Project. I receive messages from all over the world, missionaries in China who feel nourished by the podcast episodes or from folks struggling with anxiety who have found contemplative practices a beautiful way to calm their nervous system and simultaneously draw near to the Prince of Peace. I’ve also been privileged to work with Healing Care’s spiritual direction leadership team, teaching and shepherding these cohorts. I feel a bit like Susan or Lucy on Aslan’s back romping over the fields, watching his resurrection spread.
There’s never been a more important time to become a spiritual director and shepherd souls through the increasingly fast faith shifts occurring in God’s people. They need hands to hold through this murkiness.This unique blend of spiritual direction, and the rich teaching of Healing Care positions people to experience the lavish kindness of God in an increasingly unkind world.
Summer is an Anglican priest with a Masters of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. After seminary, she, along with her husband, spent 10 years together as parish priests on the coast of Lake Michigan. That's where she first experienced the gift of Terry Wardle's teaching and Healing Care and drove to Ashland, OH as often as she could. For ten years she led healing care groups and had a front-row seat witnessing God's transforming power in Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Georgia where she now resides. Her 2-year spiritual direction certification is also through HCM where she appreciated the blend of classic and inner healing learning modalities. Summer is now the founder of “The Presence Project,” a podcast and teaching ministry of spiritual care that helps people find home-base in the heart of God through spiritual practices as a way to heal attachment wounds and overcome anxiety. Summer, also a home-school mother of three, is a gifted spiritual director who can often be found ministering to women over iced tea on her front porch, holding their hard and holy stories and in her words, “I’m stunned by the beauty of the human soul and the way the Lord comes near. Every. Single. Time.”