Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Anam cara

If Mary was still here, I’d be talking to her about the UK government’s inadequate response to the refugees’ crisis (punctuation intended) and what we could do about it. And how if I wasn’t going to be in Colorado, I might go on the London demo.

I’d be telling her that Dave has gone to Coventry for the day, and I have an undisturbed day to think, write, cycle, garden, paint my toenails and pack, and we’d laugh about the glories of an empty house. I’d tell her about this jumper I bought from mail order that’s a disappointment, and about how Tate got on in his first week at secondary school, and how Lux (5) said to Isaac “Daddy, I organised these hibernating caterpillars. The blue one is the queen” –

hibernating caterpillars

And I’d tell her all the things I can’t share with you.

I recently came across a Celtic concept anam cara, which I really liked.  John O’Donoghue explains it in his book on Celtic wisdom thus:

“In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.” In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner-most self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.””

That’s what she was: a friend of my soul.


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