Anam Cara is a Gaelic word meaning “soul friend”. It symbolises a spiritual friendship that is not affected by time, distance, or separation. In the old Celtic tradition, the Anam Cara was someone you could share your innermost self, mind and heart. This soul friendship was an act of recognition and belonging helping us return to the heart of our spirit.
--- from the website of the Anam Cara Retreat Center in the Scottish Highlands
If we're very lucky, we have one or two of these special people in our lives. If we are blessed beyond measure, we have three or four. You know who they are. Weeks, months or even years can go by between meetings, but the moment you are together again, it's as though no time has passed. There is no feeling of strangeness...and if the truth be told, even the first time you met, the feeling of familiarity is instantaneous. We "know" one another from the start, recognizing some indescribable spark of familiarity.
They may have come from around the corner or around the world. You may meet them on the first day of kindergarten, on the biggest day of your life, or when divorce, financial challenges or one too many birthdays have left you feeling that the best of life has passed you by. And sometimes, we come to know an Anam Cara before we ever meet in person, sharing that spark across telephone lines or within the lines of letters and postcards and e-mails.
It doesn’t really matter where or how or when…there is that feeling of connection. A bond that forms instantly and feels as though it has always been there. You find it hard to remember a time before you knew them – how could you ever NOT have known them? You know you must have met them somewhere before --- in this life or perhaps somewhere (or some-when?) before. The feeling is too strong to be new.
You may agree on everything or almost nothing but somehow it doesn’t matter. You know you can trust them with the things you have in common and the things you see from opposite sides, and still not lose their friendship.
When you have an Anam Cara in your life, you know you are blessed. Your soul has found a friend. And that is far beyond friendships of the head or even the heart.
I have a few Anam Caras in my life…they stretch across the country from the northeast to the Rockies, to the deep south and to sunny Florida. They are each so different I have a hard time imagining them together in one room. An urban jewelry and clothing designer in Chicago, a Mormon mom of four in Southern Utah, an engineer from Syria, a retired firefighter from orginally New York, a woman seeking her path in life with a new start in Colorado. Each brings blessings into my life. Each is someone I know I could see tomorrow, regardless of how long it’s been since our last meeting, and feel as though no time has passed.
I came across the concept of an Anam Cara today while I was working on a Celtic catalog. How sweet to discover that I already had these wonderful people in my life...I just needed the word for them.