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Comfort and Joy: Anam Cara


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Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, former FMS community member Deanna Wolf shares how she draws comfort from the friends who sometimes know her better than she knows herself. 

They say when one falls in love, there is an inexplicable feeling that can be described as nothing less than coming home. This sense of the familiar is found in someone else completely outside of the self. And in this lies the crux; we cannot come home to ourselves, unless it is through another that we find our way.

I am learning this, gradually, as if reading painstakingly slow in a second language. But, as in anything worthwhile, it has proven to be something intrinsically beautiful. When I remember moments of Comfort and Joy in the past year, they are always when I am with other souls. Souls that hold me in beauty and light, my Anam Cara.

The Anam Cara is a Gaelic Word meaning Soul Friend. It is said that the Anam Cara is a flowing of souls that together form a deep bond of trust, truth, and unconditional love. However, the experience is two-fold, while a Soul Friend accepts you as you truly are, both must first recognize their own inner beauty and light before connecting with one another to bring out the same in the other person.

As John Donahue, an Irish author and philosopher, says, “…this ancient and eternal union with humanity cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy, and definition.”

Those individuals who have become my Anam Cara, my Soul Friends, are my Comfort and Joy. They are the solid ground beneath my feet. Those that let me know I am worthy, remind me of the gift of vulnerability, and coax me towards it. My Anam Cara let me know there is a greater purpose of intertwined fates in an unimaginably perfect plan.

These soul friends are the ones on long distance phone calls who care enough to share the insignificant happenings of life across thousands of miles, because those are the things that matter. The ones who communicate in a language translated as an exchange of laughter. The ones who don’t fear adventure, will break the rules, yet in the next moment ask your faults and love you the same when you admit them because they already know.

Deanna and friends

Deanna and friends

The ones who lay on your floor or sit on your bed sharing what makes them human, inviting you to do the same. The ones who will sit with you in awe of a sunset, a storm rolling in, or the innumerable stars above, and appreciate silence as the greatest expression of awe. The ones who invite you to be better, and provide exactly what you need to get there.

When you are blessed with an Anam Cara, you have arrived at the most sacred place: home.

I pray this Christmas,

May you treasure your friends. May you be good to them, be there for them, and receive all the challenges, truth, and light you need. May you never be isolated but know the embrace of your Anam Cara.

Question for reflection: Who are your Anam Cara?


Deanna Wolf is a Community Engagement and Border Immersion Assistant at the Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness, and Social Action and a member of University Ministry at the University of San Diego. 

Featured image: adaptation of photo by Pixabay user Gamopy – public domain

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Franciscan Mission Service often invites guest writers to contribute to the blog. Contributors often include board members, formation leaders, Secular Franciscans, Franciscan friars and sisters, and other friends of the organization. If you would be interested in contributing, please contact info@franciscanmissionservice.org.