April Spiritual Challenge

SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE – The Anam Cara, You, and Your Friends

Our theme for the month is Interdependence and my challenge to you focuses on one of the most interdependent of human relationships – Friendship.  Not only do we love our friends, but we also depend on them, and they on us. My challenge to you is to reflect on your friendships and the spiritual roles friends fill in each other’s lives.  Here’s some thoughts to get you going.

Anam Cara is an Irish term meaning Soul Friend. As John O’Donohue says in his book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, “In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. 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.” Pastoral Counselor and therapist Robert Wicks suggests that friends fill four spiritual roles in our lives. He calls these the Cheerleader, The Prophet, the Harasser, and the Spiritual Guide. One friend my fill multiple roles in a friendship.  Just as your friends fill these roles in your life, you fill them in theirs. 

  • The Cheerleader friend is someone who encourages you and reminds you that you CAN do it! You WILL be okay! And You ARE a wonderful person! You are loved! A famous cheerleader friend is Frodo Baggins’ friend Sam Gamgee.  Who are the Cheerleaders in your life? Who do you cheer for and how?
  • The Prophet friend tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear?  Who speaks the truth to you even when it is difficult? Who insists on justice and compassion? Who are the Prophets in your life. To whom do you Prophesy.
  • The Harasser is a friend who can get away with nagging you to be your best self. Who calls you to humility? Who reminds you not to blow things out of proportion? Who nags you to do the right thing? Is there anyone in your life you help with these things? Who do you harass?
  • The Spiritual Guide is the friend = you talk to about big important questions – how you feel? The origin of the universe? The meaning of life? A friend who helps you understand art, music, poetry? Who helps you be a Unitarian Universalist?  Who are the Spiritual Guides in your life. Whose Spiritual Guide, are you?

Once you’ve worked through this challenge, perhaps tell your friends about it. Or better yet, invite them into the process of reflection with you, like a true anam cara!

As always, I’d love to know how you did with this challenge.  Text me or call me at 508-344-3668 or email me at revtony@pm.me.