In the Celtic tradition, there is a concept known as anam cara, which means “soul love” or “soul friend.” When we are with our anam cara, there is no mask, no pretense, nothing superficial. It is a friendship in which we feel truly understood, truly at home. With such understanding comes a sense of belonging at the deepest level, enabling us to enter a unity of sacred belonging.
When we have an anam cara, friendship cuts across all convention and category. We are joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of our soul. From a position of such deep connectedness, we can truly discover who we are and delight in the other. We can also be empowered to accomplish that which we could never accomplish on our own.
In the Book of Ruth, Naomi and Ruth have that soul friendship that transcends time and boundaries. They are widows who need each other’s protection to survive. Ruth is a foreigner in an alien land who needs Naomi for her acceptance; Naomi needs Ruth’s youthfulness and loyalty; both are better together than apart. The unbreakable bond of a soul friendship nurtures them and binds them together for all time.
In our uncertain world, we all need the anchor of a spiritual friend. Many people have an anam cara of whom they are not aware. Do you have one? If not, could you ask your Creator for the gift of recognition?
The Rev. Canon Elizabeth R. Geitz