Tuesday, December 30, 2014

To My Soul Friend

I write this to you, friend of my soul, with a heart filled with gratitude. There are but a few of you walking this Earth, as I feel this divine phenomenon does not occur often, and the love I feel for you is not easily explained and can never be replicated. There is no doubt in my mind that the gift of an Anam Cara is sent from God and is one of the greatest blessings in companionship outside of marriage and family that has been bestowed upon the human race.

Celtic tradition is ripe with a beautiful and poetic understanding of love and friendship that transcends how we define relationships today. Anam Cara means "The Friend of Your Soul," or your soul-friend. Anam is the Gaelic word for 'soul' and Cara signifies 'friend'. It is believed that your soul radiates around your physical body--this radiation is what some describe as energy and others as an aura--and that when you completely and openly connect with another person your two souls begin to flow together and move as one.

A parallel concept to the intertwining of souls through deep friendship in Anam Cara is the term 'Namaste.' Used in yoga practice, my personal view is it signifies that, with gratitude, the light in my heart recognizes the light in your heart. Thus, the light in me recognizes the light in you. When this recognition occurs there is no need for mask or pretension--you simply are. Without judgement or prejudice, your soul is bare and unguarded. Though vulnerable, there is a sense of security in souls connecting in such a way that forges a sacred and dear friendship that will stand the test of time.

On a handful of occasions I have been lucky enough to experience this meeting of the hearts and minds. Most often this has occurred upon first meeting someone--that exact moment you may not know the person very well but are drawn to them; your heart's light has connected with theirs and has formed an unbreakable bond. Your kindred spirits have recognized one another and are inexplicably drawn together.

According to Celtic Tradition, the Anam Cara was "originally someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life....you could share your innermost self" and the friendship is an act of "recognition and belonging" (Lisa Sabin-Wilson). The definition goes on to explain that this Soul Friendship can only be gained after you have first recognized your own inner light and beauty. By forming an Anam Cara, you are able to "awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joy of others." But this friendship can only be formed when you are able to recognize, love and accept the individual beauty that you hold within yourself.

According to tradition, with a Soul Friend, there is no limitation of space or time; "the soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other." The Irish believe that when you are blessed with an Anam Cara, you have arrived at the "most sacred place: home."

I have been blessed to meet a handful of Soul Friends throughout my life. I write this to thank them for their kindness and devotion while I endured the greatest struggle of my life and fought to seek remission.

Soul Friends, for me, have come in many forms. My first was a beautiful ballerina with an innate sense of style and that connected with the polar-opposite tomboy in me when we were little girls. We were friends but it was not until much later, as our souls and our hearts matured, that we formed a bond that death itself will not be able to part. In this Soul Friend, God has blessed me with what I now consider a sister and a friendship that is so sacred to me.

In my early twenties I came across two Anam Cara's at the same place and at the same time. Our souls are so intertwined that we can go months to years without speaking, but the second we are reunited it is as if no time has lapsed at all.

But sometimes we do not recognize the same light that exists in someone else upon first meeting; therefore there is no love-at-first-sight with these Soul Friends. Maybe our spirits were at different stages during this time, or perhaps we were too busy to listen to the light that existed between our souls that was begging to be acknowledged.

I reconnected with one of these Soul Friends that I missed the first time around through our shared bond of suffering: Lyme Disease. I deeply regret that we did not find this gifted friendship the first time...we did not yet recognize the ancient and eternal friendship of our souls but now share a relationship and friendship that the physical distance between us does not affect the closeness that we share.

My most seemingly unlikely (at the time) Anam Cara came during a period when I may not have had the courage to "give absolute permission to come into the deepest temple" of my spirit. I was sick but still in denial--fighting so hard against the inevitable. This woman, who I now call Soul Friend, and I were not compatible at first. Then, a few years later, we both went through significant spiritual rebirths in similar ways but for different reasons. Our renewed spirits quickly found one another and this Soul Friend is now my mentor--the older sister I never had but always wanted. I greatly look up to her and appreciate the wisdom she shares with me as well as the kindness her heart has shown me during this most difficult time. This Soul Friend is truly a blessing from God.

Finally, I thank my most recent Soul Friend, who was the impetus for this post. This is someone I greatly respect and during a conversation last night he mussed, "I feel like we know each other better than we actually do." He wisely noted that our bond in Christ and a bond in suffering brought our spirits together as our souls recognized the light in one another.

To all my Spirit Friends: You have been incredibly good to me, I am forever grateful, and I love you for the deep bond that has been formed between our light. My soul recognized your goodness and your spirit and I am truly blessed to call you my Anam Caras. As a Soul Friend, you always accept me for who I truly am, holding me in beauty and light--which stems from a realization of your own beauty and light. Awakening to this deeper level of friendship has brought me both joy and peace. I am grateful that the light in you recognized the light in me.

"Love is the threshold where the divine and human ebb and flow, one into the other." I hope that you are all blessed with a sense of the Holy in everyday life through friendships of love that resonates deep within your being.

With much gratitude,

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