Mid Week Reflection – Anam Cara or Anamchara

When we travel our journey’s can take many forms with differing starting points, where we carry different luggage and we pass through different scenery. Even if we set out on a journey we have taken many times before we can often see and experience differences as we journey.


Just south of Oban.
Ferry to Kerrera – dun_deagh – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
Soul Friend


The phrases Christian journey or faith journey are often used to describe where we are as Christians, we are journeying. Faith journeys like any journey can start from differing places and have different experiences. Our faith journeys are seldom done alone, they are done within the company of fellow Christians but also sometimes supported by a trusted friend.

Anam (soul) Cara (friend) is a Gaelic phrase. I recognise that there is discussion within the Gaelic speaking community over the use of the word and the interplay of between English and Gaelic languages. I am using the phrase Anam Cara in a spiritual context, Anam Cara is a Soul Friend, not a best buddy or even a deep friendship, it is much more. It means someone who is your spiritual advisor or spiritual director but not a confessor.

The late Irish author, poet and priest John O’Donohue wrote:
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World which helped bring the phrase into popular usage. Two quotations from John O’Donoghue’s works may help in understanding the special nature of Anam Cara, Soul Friend:

One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The anam-ċara experience opens a friendship that is not wounded or limited by separation or distance. Such friendship can remain alive even when the friends live far away from each other. Because they have broken through the barriers of persona and egoism to the soul level, the unity of their souls is not easily severed. When the soul is awakened, physical space is transfigured. Even across the distance two friends can stay attuned to each other and continue to sense the flow of each other’s lives. With your anam-ċara you awaken the eternal. In this soul-space there is no distance.
‘Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World’

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God, the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church: by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ and make us eager to do your will, that we may share with the whole creation the joys of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
(Common Worship Collect for the 20th Sunday of Trinity)

The Word of the Lord
(Verses from the readings from those set for the 20th Sunday of Trinity)

Psalm 104 (1-6, 35c)
Bless the Lord, O my soul. • O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!
You are clothed with majesty and honour, • wrapped in light as in a garment.
You spread out the heavens like a curtain • and lay the beams of your dwelling place in the waters above.
You make the clouds your chariot • and ride on the wings of the wind.
You make the winds your messengers • and flames of fire your servants.
You laid the foundations of the earth, • that it never should move at any time.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; • I will make music to my God while I have my being.


Mark 10 (41-45)

Following the request of James and John to be given a special place we read these words from Mark

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’


For all who struggle to find their identity in a world that tries, often without success, to find a suitable box in which to place them, grant us courage to become a people you want them to be, not constrained by this world’s wisdom
But allowed to grow and become themselves in your Spirit’s power.

God bless the weary traveller who has walked so many paths in search to find a place where they can be at peace.
Be with then in their travelling and as guide, reveal yourself so that, on the Emmaus Road their wandering might cease. (John Birch)

Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Local church and its leaders
wider community
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed
those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill
those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

The Lords Prayer

God, our light and our salvation:
illuminate our lives,
that we may see your goodness in the land of the living,
and looking on your beauty
may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Alternative Collect for the 20th Sunday of Trinity)

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God bless your travelling: quiet whisper to guide you,
strong hand to support you, soft rain to refresh you,
warm sun to restore you, God’s love to sustain you

*John Birch Walking With God pages 52, 80 and 100

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Derek Akker