Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ANAM CARA

The expansive vistas of Abiquiu, New Mexico are only vivid memories now as I sit in my cubicle at work. Last week was a wonderful time of learning and reflecting and listening. To my great benefit, I had time to listen to my heart. One of the messages that came to me related to friendship – deep friendship. I am blessed with many friends. Some I speak to daily, others less frequently. But I have 2 unique friends that I thought of while I was away. I’ve known them both for only the past 2 or 3 years. In fact, they both entered my life around the same time. Here’s what makes them unique: Buck and I have only spent about 10 days in each other’s company over the length of our friendship. Hudson and I have never met face-to-face.

One thing we have in common is that we all blog. I encourage you to visit each of their blogs: Buck writes at
thedirtyshame.blogspot.com. Hudson writes at hudsonmackenzie.blogspot.com. Buck and I met (face-to-face) at a creative artist workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico about 3 years ago. Hudson and I met (online) by way of Christine (www.abbeyofthearts.com) who I met at that same workshop. Despite our continuing friendships by way of our blogs, it is not the inherent geekiness of that connection that holds us as friends. What I find in Buck and Hudson goes far deeper than the clichéd “kindred soul” label. It is probably best described by the term “anam cara” (see author John O’Donoghue) which means “soul friend.” It is no coincidence that thoughts about friendship sprang up during my time in Abiquiu. The workshop I attended was based upon Celtic Spirituality. The term “anam cara” is Celtic in origin.

Over the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve been involved in a variety of retreat and workshop activities that is known as “men’s work.” Usually occurring over the span of a weekend, men gather together and re-learn how to be men among other men. These weekends have brought me to a place where I have learned to cherish the ability to be myself in every way in the company of another man without the baggage that our culture puts on us. The result is the development of real relationships based upon an appreciation of our uniqueness and the gifts we bring to those relationships. The most cherished gift we can (and do) bring is honesty. Buck and Hudson are the two most honest people I “know.”

In the case of each man, I feel completely free to confide my shadow thoughts and fears. I share my little life victories, my doubts, my aspirations and my faith. Each of these men give me the gift of listening. This may be the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing unconditional love.

I know that some might consider this to be a sterile 21st century phenomenon that is risk-free based on the lack of personal contact. If you believe this, nothing I write will convince you otherwise. But, I know, way down deep, that type of relationship would not have continued any longer than a season. Sure, much of our contact is through reading one another’s postings on our blogs and a quick comment or two in return. I believe, however, that we read each other’s blogs within the context of the man we know, filling in a few more details along the way. But then there are times when we are compelled to write “offline” (so to speak) to go deeper. It is during those times that we become true “anam cara.” In many ways, I know these men far better than I know members of my own family. We have the courage to be ourselves and allow ourselves to be loved for who we are. That is NOT an insignificant accomplishment.

I am truly blessed.

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3 Comments:

Blogger H.M. said...

What an honor and a blessing to know you, my friend, And one day we will meet face to face.

Thank you. I am deeply touched and honored.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Buck said...

It's in those moments of being still that the cream rises to the top, huh? Friendship - a gift even the gods envy.

I raise a glass to you in the sweaty cantina of my mind...

7:07 AM  
Blogger Laure said...

yes you are ... blessed. deep listening is the boat of companionship when we are out to sea ... carrying us ... upholding us ... through storm and stillness. i smell Abiquiu on you!

9:53 AM  

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