Another very thoughtful post by lovesupreme. And BTW I love the Coltrane referenced username and photo of the jazz master himself.
Now, as a completely outside the thread question, have you ever seen, on-line, the quasi-Orthodox, certainly non canonical, church of St. John Coltrane? They even have icons of him and they are pretty cool looking! Completely outside of canonical Orthodoxy but intersting nonetheless. Google St. John Coltrane Orthodox Church. I think it is in San Francisco (which would help explain it).
Now back to your post. I beleive, and I do not think I am alone in this [although I suppose i will soon find out
], that one can have a priest AND a spiritual father. Many who live near monaseries do.
Your priest is your confessor but may not necessarily be your spiritual father.
There are very few spiritual fathers nowadays.
One may have a priest who is very gifted in interpersonal relationships and is spiritually sensitive and can counsel you well, or the priest could be a total clod in interpesonal skills (but a wonderful liturgist, teacher/preacher for instance). Your parish priest is your parish priest and in most instances your confessor, and especially in a large parish, may not know you well.
Regarding the above point, the personal gifts and qualities of a given priest are likely natural gifts and are not charisms and therefore, say nothing good or bad about a priest's personal spirituality. Just like some secular people go into counseling and others go into public leadership roles. A priest brings natural abilities and a skill set to his "job," even though it is a calling from God and certainly more than a job.
And, inreference to the next above point, we should not romanticize or overly spiritualize priests. They are humans just like us. They are on a journey just like us.
In rust belt cities with, clusters of Orthodox Churches and many pan-Orthodox events, many of us know many priests. I am not suggesting priest shopping. Just that if one knows several priests and has oportunity to ask several regarding a theological question (which is how I am treating this thread), by all means avail oneself of their collected knowledge.
A good priest who knows you outside of your parish would probably give you his theological answer, then tell you, that having been said, on the pastoral level, if this is a deep issue of personal concern, go back to your parish priest for advice.
As a pastoral question, your final point makes sense, although....
I am not the original poster, I am not struggling with this issue. But I do hope the OP-er read your advise because it was sensitive and kind. So in that regard, thank you!