by Nadia Ramoutar MMM Communications Coordinator Ireland 17.01.2023
I am fortunate to have great friends in my life. I think that they are some of my most treasured gifts. In the past few years working for the MMMs as the Communications Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to reflect on many aspects of what makes life better not just for me, but for other people.
I realise that some people think that physical objects, more money, nice holidays or a new car might make their life better, but what I have learned from working with the MMM Sisters is that most joy comes from experiences not stuff. The relationships we have are our treasure and friendship is actually an extremely important aspect of a healthy life.
Sr Sheila Campbell and I work very closely together in our roles and I have learned so much from her in so many ways. She is very fond of Sr Joan Chittister and, as a result, I have also become fond of her.
“Friendship is the linking of spirits. It is a spiritual act, not a social one. It is the finding of the remainder of the self. It is knowing a person before you even meet them,” Joan Chittister once wrote. I think this is such a beautiful quote. There is no doubt that spiritual friendship is something much deeper than being an acquaintance. With billions of people on the planet, it is amazing how we have chemistry and bonds with some people and not with others. There are those who seem to speak the language of our heart. Two of my favourite spiritual friends to study are Sr Francis of Assisi and St Clare.
In the Irish tradition, there is a term known as Anam Cara which translates to mean “soul friend”. It refers to a sacred relationship that holds connection through authenticity, trust and mutual respect. Irish writer John O’Donohue brought the term to the world in his short life. He shared that a unique and deeply personal connection will make a person stronger together than they are apart.
In his book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue examines the mystery of friendship.
“In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship…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 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. ”
The joy is not just in having an anam cara, but also in being an anam cara. We get as much if not more from being a sacred friend than in having one. Loving another person and accepting them unconditionally is a gift to both the giver and the receiver. As we rush through our busy worlds, let us pause and honour our true friends. Let us open our hearts and mind to being an even better friend than we were before. The world could do with more sacred bonds.