A Journey to Spiritual Direction
One 4th of July Sunday, on a lark, Wayne Stagg was on his way from South Knoxville to another Episcopal church across town when he decided instead to stop in at St. John’s for the 10:30 Eucharist. When he got home after the service he shared his experience with his wife Heather; they came together the following Sunday and they’ve been here ever since. That was nearly 7 years ago. Long ago, Heather and Wayne met at Tyson House. While there, Heather served as Senior Warden, was active in the Choir, and more. She had also studied Education for Ministry in the 1970’s…all while working full time as an RN. Moving off campus to another Episcopal church, she continued her busy schedule of service to her parish, adding to her repertoire Altar Guild, EfM Mentorship, and the list goes on. Eventually being overcommitted and working full time gave way to sporadic attendance. When the Staggs decided to transfer to St. John’s they were encouraged to come, but do nothing at first but be fed. Heather’s faith walk in the Episcopal Church harkens back to her first vivid memory of being baptized at St. James’ at the age of 8. In hindsight, Heather acknowledges that her journey to the calling of Spiritual Direction started in her youth. She has always been a natural confidant to her peers, interested in people and their stories. She even said that her favorite part of nursing was that “…you can do anything to a patient by distracting them with their own story.” She spent forty years as a Med-Surge Nurse at Ft. Sanders Regional, finishing out her career with 3 years as an RN in Psychiatry at Peninsula. Fifteen years ago Heather was approached about being a Spiritual Director – also known as a “Spiritual Friend” – even though she had not been trained to do so. None-the-less, the two created a covenant and agreed to meet. Ultimately he was led to the ministry in a different denomination; however, the timing was not right for this full-time nurse to further pursue this ministry. Once she retired from nursing and having always been an avid reader (especially of psychology, history, sociology, and theology), Dean Ross asked her what she was planning on doing with all of this knowledge. After much contemplation and conversation, Heather started looking into Spiritual Direction programs. She has recently enrolled in a 2-year program through the Haden Institute in North Carolina. The program consists of a lot of independent reading, reports submitted to a mentor, major papers, as well as three 4-day intensives at Kanuga. A Spiritual Director is one who journeys with another, helping them explore their relationship with God. In her own journey Heather is keeping it simple, serving on an Altar Guild team and as a weekday acolyte, and she participates in Daughters of the King, Centering Prayer and a couple of Bible studies. Heather has also immersed herself into the fitness program that started at St. John’s with Performance Training Inc.’s support. In addition to the offerings at the Cathedral, Heather also works with their nutritionist, and works out three times more per week beyond the sessions offered at the Cathedral. She’s on a spiritual journey of her own that incorporates all the practices of faith – meditation, contemplation, examination, and simplification.