In John O’Donohue’s beautiful book Anam Cara, he centers his exploration of Celtic wisdom and spiritual ideas around the Gaelic words anam (soul) and cara (friend). Put together the words mean “soul friend”. The anam cara is not a mere acquaintance but someone with whom one can be profoundly authentic and real. There is also an aspect of “recognition” in this relationship where the two individuals perceive each other’s essence as if they were cut from the same cloth.
In the book, O’Donohue mostly refers to the anam cara in its human form but a soul friend can present itself in the body of an animal as well. In my life I’ve been blessed and privileged to have had a number of anam caras – depth relationships I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China. But I never imagined that the circle would include two unique felines, Rumi and Hafiz.
Rumi and Hafiz came to me seven years ago and I knew immediately that we were to be together. When Hafiz took ill about nine months ago I was anxious and devastated wondering when he would leave us. I no longer ponder as I scheduled his intake appointment for heaven for tomorrow morning when the vet comes to our house. What I didn’t anticipate was that Rumi would become drastically ill. Whether this is in response to Hafiz’s condition or some bizarre coincidence I can’t say. I only know that I watch in anguish as I anticipate my two anam caras possibly checking in to heaven together if Rumi doesn’t improve.
In my sadness I think of the individuals who knew and cared for Rumi and Hafiz who are now dead. I ask them to be at the welcoming gates should Rumi join Hafiz in his pilgrimmage tomorrow. And as I watch the sun begin to set on this hellish day I know that after the emptiness subsides, true soul friends linger announcing their presence like chimes in the wind.