Working in a bookstore, I have a vast library at my disposal. Often, I will take any book off the shelf and randomly open it to a page and begin reading. Some time ago, I stumbled upon the book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue. The passage I read struck me with its beautiful metaphor for love and friendship and I vowed that I would read the book one day. As 'way leads on to way', it's been over a year since I have been able to get back to the book. I am making my way through it now. And wow. What a beautiful gift this book is.
Anam Cara means 'soul friend' in the Celtic world. According to O'Donohue:
"It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart."
It is a rare to thing to find an anam cara. The book speaks of finding such a friend as an act of "ancient recognition". This is the passage I stumbled upon originally which drew me back to reading the book in full. It is a beautiful, poetic image of the finding of love within friendship, and friendship within love.
"When you find the person you love, an act of ancient recognition brings you together. It is as if millions of years before the silence of nature broke, your lover's clay and your clay lay side by side. then in the turning of the seasons, your one clay divided and separated. you began to rise as distinct clay forms, each housing a different individuality and destiny. Without even knowing it, your secret memory mourned your loss of each other. While clay selves wandered for thousands of years through the universe, your longing for each other never faded. This metaphor helps explain how in the moment of friendship two souls suddenly recognize each other. It could be a meeting on the street, or at a party or a lecture, or just a simple, banal introduction, then suddenly there is a flash of recognition and the embers of kinship glow. There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing."
I am filled with love today as I reflect on the anam cara who have crossed my path in this life. I have been very blessed to meet those rare few with whom I shared the clay before time began. And yes, there is that spark of recognition, that ancient knowing. It is a wonder to behold. It is one of the great mysteries of life. A mystery I will clothe myself in for the rest of my days.