Mark Johnson, coordinating editor, New South Wales Regional Meeting.

Welcome Friends to the June edition of the Australian Friend. As you may remember June editions are given over to a particular theme, the theme for this issue being: Leadings or Wilfulness and Everything in Between.

It is too easy to refuse to look more deeply at the language we use to indicate particular experiences and relationships. Often the excuse of not wanting to be too “analytic” gets in the way of any grappling at all with what is meant by a particular term, relegating our conversations to a vague assent to a discursive miasma – and meaning often reinterpreted by those with the loudest personalities.

Leadings have an enlivening role within Quaker life, both now and over the centuries. This June edition of the Australian Friend is an attempt to again return to the sources of the life, and rescue significant names from forgetfulness – both non and intentional.

We here at the Australian Friend are thankful to the many writers who have shared deeply on this theme, and our hope is that your engagement with Leadings doesn’t just stop at the page, but that the thoughts of each article inspire further reflection and living in response.

The September issue of the Australian Friend will again break new ground within the Yearly Meeting by inviting a guest editor to work alongside the panel in inviting and assembling. The guest editor for September will be Gerry Guiton of New South Wales Regional Meeting, the theme being “Spiritual Direction for Quakers?” Gerry writes:

Spiritual direction is an old fashioned title for a wonderfully modern form of ministry. It is also called spiritual companionship or spiritual friendship. It usually involves a one-to-one relationship and is normally conducted once a month for an hour. Spiritual companionship involves co-journeying for an enriched spiritual life in a welcoming and liberating atmosphere. It is, therefore, a mutually learning process. Those seeking “direction” usually anticipate the challenges it can involve, challenges that are nonetheless growing points for spiritual growth. Times together can also be full of rejoicing. Prayer and discernment are vital to this ministry which falls perfectly into the orbit of one of our Advices–Live adventurously.

The seeker is in charge. Nobody tells her/him what to think or do. The relationship can be postponed or terminated at any time. In my experience guides (“directors” etc.) are professional, caring and thoughtful. They usually possess deep spiritual insight and theological maturity. They consider confidentiality to be absolutely paramount. And they also see a guide as well as a supervisor. Many belong to a “peer group” (which meets to discuss a guide’s experiences and feelings about his/her processes) and undertake frequent professional development sessions.

The early Friends and many since were often spiritual guides of the purest water. We think of Fox’s marvellous words of advice and consolation to the dying Lady Claypole, and Pennington’s beautiful letters to various people. A small and growing number of modern Friends are taking up spiritual friendship. Is it for you? Would you like to receive spiritual ‘direction’? The September issue of the Australian Friend is devoted to the ministry and it is my privilege to be its guest editor. We hope you find the articles not only interesting but intriguing and exciting.

As well as writers that Gerry will specifically ask to write – and articles of his own – the Australian Friend panel asks that you, also, think and reflect upon the topic and contribute articles. And of course those who want to contribute articles off topic are welcome too. Gerry has also asked that if anyone has experienced or witnessed spiritual direction for them to consider writing as well.

As usual send all articles care of

Until next time we wish all of our readers Light and Peace.

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