Soul Friends and the Beauty of Listening
Several years ago I joined a volunteer program that facilitates one-on-one caregiving for those in the community experiencing crisis or loss. I went through fifty hours of training that taught me how to be a better listener and immersed me in the program's goals of non-judgmental, empathic, and confidential care.
Each week, I meet with a care receiver who has been thoughtfully and prayerfully matched with me, and I listen to her talk about her fears, troubles, and challenges. These relationships can last a few months or more than a year, depending on the needs and the situation.
I don't give answers or advice. I simply show up each time, ready to allow my care receiver to talk about what is on her heart as I actively listen and ask open-ended questions.
Recently, at the end of my last meeting, my care receiver gave me a card with a description of an Anam Cara. As I read it I knew instantly the power and impact of our time together.
In ancient times, the Celts established a "soul friend" (the Gaelic words anam cara) as a spiritual guide or mentor. Our modern society has redefined soulmate through a romantic lens, but this Anam Cara goes beyond those pairings to include those with whom you trust and connect on a "soul" level. This can be family, friend, lover, or neighbor.
As the card explains, in order to fully appreciate this connection, you must also become aware of your own inner light and beauty. An anam cara friendship can support you as you discover and nurture your best self while witnessing the joys around you.
I believe that we can have this deep connection to our core humanity with anyone when we take time to genuinely listen, and we can catch glimpses of it in acquaintances or even strangers when we open ourselves to love and reach out in that spirit.
I've seen it through my formal caring relationships, in unexpected calls or letters, and when neighbors make dinner or contribute funds for a grieving family.
What inner beauty do you need to cultivate?
How will your soul touch another today?
Are you willing to persist in giving love, trust, and compassion to those around you?
Some doorways from this week:
- We live behind a dairy farm and its hay fields. When the sun was setting last week, the low angle of the light turned this field to gold. It only lasted long enough for me to grab my camera before the sun disappeared beyond the horizon.
- My brother-in-law's young niece was climbing a ladder with her sister, and they both fell, one from near the top. Thankfully, both escaped with only minor injuries. It seems as though an angel was there to protect them.