Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anam Cara: Soul Friend

One recognizes a soul friend by the hospitality she or he offers in accepting one's deepest thoughts and aspirations. ... The soul friend honors the secrets of the heart and gently nudges one's dreams into being. It is in soul friendship that one discovers the presence of Christ. - Holy Companions (I love this book!!)
Anam cara is an Irish term that translates to "soul friend." I learned the term in college, which is also where I met my soul friend. Her name is Anne. We were roommates for four months and have been soul friends now for about six years, even though she got married and moved to California right out of college. One's anam cara is too precious to lose because of distance or life events!

A soul friendship is distinct from being "best friends" and certainly different from a marriage relationship, although it has qualities of both. It is a deep, abiding friendship that doesn't require shared hobbies or frequent visits to thrive. It blossoms through regular communication, though. As Anne said recently, "going this long without contacting one's soul friend is a good way to find oneself feeling somewhat...off-kilter."

Soul friends share the ease and confidence of best friends combined with trust and complete honesty. It truly is a relationship of the soul more than the heart or mind. My anam cara can listen to me talk for an hour and speak the wisdom I need to hear all summed up in one sentence. On the rare and wonderful occasions we meet face to face, we find that despite distance and life circumstances, we are often struggling with similar faith issues. There is solidarity, consolation, and guidance in a soul friendship.

I have wondered recently in what conditions we might recognize our soul friends. I suspect we need time, faith-sharing, and silence. We need time to simply learn about the other, when to ask questions and when to wait, how to best offer support, and how one's past shapes the future. We need faith-sharing to recognize a kindred soul who shares a longing for Christ and walks a path similar to ours. We need silence to be comfortable with each other and recognize that God speaks into the silences of our hearts.

Me, my anam cara, and our husbands

Anne and I have plans to meet again over Labor Day weekend. It will be good to laugh and talk and grow in faith together. Do you have an anam cara?

1 comment:

  1. May God be praised for giving us each the gifts in ourselves and each other to bring each other along this journey with and toward Him. Speaking of 'working to be worthy,' I don't feel worthy to have found my soul friend yet (nor for her to be so wonderful!). But, I'm not, and no one is; that's the beauty and freedom of grace...and of acquiescing to His plan for showering blessings in the form of abundance or of scarcity. :-)I say these things with that funny feeling that you might know what I'm talking about ;-)I love and miss you so much, dear anam cara, and though it may not be necessary for our closeness, I sure am looking forward to some face-to-face time!!

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