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Celtic Reflections From Estes: Anam Cara

One of my closest friends recently expressed to me that he could not understand the shifts that have occurred in my life over the last several years. It is a complicated matter, really. It’s a long and involved conversation because he and I have been friends for over thirty years. We have rarely lived in the same city and for most of the time, not even the same state. Yet every week, and I mean every single week, we will talk on the phone at least twice if not more. I am grateful for his unwavering presence in my life for such a long time. He has defined friendship for me within all that life has had to offer thus far.

So it is important to have the conversation. It is life-giving to listen to his concerns, responses, and his critiques. Trust is present. Transparency travels with us. There have been periods of long silences where we find ourselves enveloped in presence together though we are hundreds of miles apart.

I want to have this conversation so that I am known deeply by another, so that I might be touched by the inner movements of the Spirit found in one who has walked with me and continues that walk today. It is a mutual “being there for another.” Come hell or high water.

The Celts have a word for this abiding friendship, you may have heard of it, Anam Cara or soul friend. I had heard of it. I read my first book about it in 2003 written by Edward Sellner. I am grateful this morning for so much. On this particular morning I am especially thankful for friends, companions on the path of life. It is fulfilling, this experience called friendship.

In the Gospel According to John, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.” I have often wondered like my friend wonders about me, just what precisely “shifted” within Jesus. This is such an enormous shift for the Rabbi toward the disciple, from the incarnate one to us. Why the shift, Jesus?

I believe that Jesus, like us longed for the fullness of what it means to live a life fully alive…to do that, we desire and need at least one good friend. To be the Word made flesh means you need someone to listen. No wonder he sent them out two by two.

We were simply not created to walk this path alone. He is our example, teacher, and soul friend.

Why the shift? Dawna’s words inspire me. May they inspire you…

I will not die an unlived life, I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise...

- Dawna Markova

Father Scott Jenkins is a Founding Director of the Celtic Way. Read more about him Here.

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