How is your spiritual health?

How’s Your Spiritual Health? Some ramblings for the week!

It might seem like a funny question but quite seriously when did you last go for a check-up and with whom?

It may seem like a daft question but it is all too easy to get drawn into a task-driven life where prayer becomes one of those tasks or worse still, does not find much of a space.

Some Readers/LLMs do manage to find time to go on retreat which is an ideal time to recharge spiritual batteries but not all of us have the space in our lives to be able to do it.

Wendy Earl writes:  Sheldon is the most wonderful retreat from the frantic world we all now inhabit; a balm for soul.

 It is tucked away in an unspoiled corner of Devon above the river Teign east of Dartmoor. It includes a thatched restored barn and modern comfortable rooms and has its own flock of sheep, orchard and vegetable patch. Some lovely walks in the local countryside beside the river can be taken directly from Sheldon but all the surrounding countryside and up to Dartmoor is gorgeous.

 Sheldon was primarily set up to support the ordained Ministry as the ‘Society of St Mary and Martha’ but now it also welcomes anyone who feels they can benefit from ‘coming away and resting awhile’.

 Retreats can be taken individually or as a group and there is a regular program of speakers for guided retreats. By contrast the R5 program is not structured. It’s enables: Rest, Retreat, Read, Relax and Recuperate.

 The Daily Office is said morning and evening in the Chapel by the Community to which visitors are invited to join. There is an extensive library and wonderful meals are served using mainly local produce. Private counselling is also available.


It is hard for some of us to justify a week away, or even a weekend and the thought of leaving one’s spouse with everything including walking the dog and so on is tricky to put it mildly. In our house going away together is much more the thing!

Quiet Days are rather easier to manage but still require us to make a commitment to them both in time and cash and in finding the motivation to sign up in the first place. The Readers used to have two quiet days a year, one in Advent and the other in Lent but the Lenten one was abandoned with the rise in Reader/LLM activity in running lent courses etc.   The advent one has had mixed attendance but always ended up subsidised each year by the diocese until Covid put the brakes on.

With other quiet days on offer, especially at Epiphany house such as my favourite that I have been chaplain for, the prayer and painting day, I do wonder whether we need to offer quiet days specifically for Readers/LLMs at all.  Your thoughts on the matter are welcome!

Spiritual Direction or soul friends, spiritual accompaniers etc.

I have to make sure with my spiritual director that I put a date in the diary for the next session at the end of each one otherwise it is too easy to put it off and then find it hard to begin again. As ministers, let alone just as folk who take our faith seriously, we should be looking after ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually and that means having someone objective ask us some searching questions.

As chaplain and a spiritual director myself I also have a second line of counsel. Anyone in the world of counselling, or spiritual direction has to have supervision and I am grateful to the “Three wise women of the west” who make up my supervision group and give me the chance to seek wise counsel.  I also get to chat to Bishop Hugh every 12 weeks or so to update him on Readers and their issues – so do let me know if there is anything I need to follow up.

So…. Make time for yourself.

  • Say “no” occasionally
  • See your spiritual director, or get one! (ask me if you want to know more!)
  • Book a retreat or a quiet day
  • Find time each day for silence, solitude and prayer.

It is wise to remember that if we don’t look after ourselves we will be no earthly use in looking after anyone else!

Leave a Reply