When I try to picture the Celtic monasteries and their communities of Anam Caras, I can’t help but wonder how this worked without some discord. It sounds almost Utopian. How did they ensure that everyone in the community had an anam cara? Which brings me to ponder as well…could this work in communities today? Could it work within charitable organizations? Could this work in my church? In all churches? To answer these questions, I think it’s important to understand on a deeper level what is an Anam cara or soul friend.
Jesus is our first soul friend. He was a true model of this. He loved and viewed people on a soul level. He knew with loving understanding the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-30). He knew with loving understanding the magnitude of the gift Mary Magdalene was giving when she anointed His feet with oil and wiped them with her hair (John 12: 1-8). In John 15:15, he refers to us as friends. He knows us individually and still He loves us. That is a true Anam cara. Every miracle Jesus did stemmed from love.
An Anam cara loves without limitations. If one friend moves far away, the love between them still remains. They are joined on a soul level. An Anam cara is a gift from God. We find our soul friends not by fervently seeking but by quietly waiting for them to be revealed to us. This of course does not mean that we ignore all others. Our number one purpose in life is to love. Love is essential to our souls, our spirits and our lives. If you are feeling unloved, then chances are that you are probably not actively reaching out in love to others. This is not me condemning anyone. We often develop blockages that keep us from loving others. I myself often have to fight against the fear of being rejected. So although I say we must wait for our Anam caras to be revealed to us, we must also be reaching out in love and friendship to all. We can love and be loved by many. We can have many friends but the Anam cara is a more-than-friend. They have a unique insight into our souls that will never allow them to pass judgement and their advice will usually be sound as it is birth from their loving soul-knowledge of us.
You can have more than one Anam cara. I believe the more time you spend cultivating the love within you the more loving your spirit becomes. When you are glowing in love, you can’t help loving others on a soul level. The love will be pure and unconditional and you will end up being an Anam cara to many. Likewise, you will also attract those who have grown deeply in love. What I mean by that is you will attract people who are growing more fully into their spirits. The Celts believed that our bodies inhabit our souls; not the other way around as many believe. We humans are a tri-une race meaning three in one. To simplify this, we will call it a mind, body and soul. The bible defines it as body, soul and spirit. Other spiritual thinkers will often refer to it as ego (or personality), body and soul (or spirit). Our soul’s calling is towards heaven. Our soul is ever reaching toward God and expanding in love. It leads our mind and body to further growth in love and in God. We (mind and body) are ever expanding to fit our soul so we can become whole.
Can there be a community where every member has an Anam cara? I believe it is possible if every one in that community is awakened in Love and are inspired to all share the goal of fully loving unconditionally using Christ as the example. It was possible once for the ancient Celts so it only stands to reason that it can be possible for us today if we are part of a community or church where we are all in one accord about this. I feel it is important to remember that we have a lot to be grateful for. God loves us even when we do things that may seem to make us unworthy of His love.