For our sore and tormented separation, the possibility of this imaginative and unifying friendship is the Celtic gift.

John O’Donohue

This post is dedicated to my friend and brother Buddy Mahar – husband, father, grandfather, coach, actor, great man.

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The ancient Celts placed great value on friendship, and on kinship relationships. This carries over to today.

Growing up in Irish Boston I saw and experienced the importance of friendship.  I saw that my friends were my family.  That one was welcomed in another’s family and treated like kin.  That neighborhoods became like clans, rich in relationship and loyalty – a place where acceptance was not fragile but stronger than time.

I have, as a result, friends I have had for over 60 years – men and women who are, to me and me to them, brothers and sisters, trusted confidants, kin.

In this tradition we find a vitally important idea and it is this: among our clan, our friendships and this extended family we had those with whom we could always talk freely and in confidence about concerns, grief, hurt, uncertainties and problems.

Those to whom we talked were known in the ancient tradition as soul friends – in Gaelic – anam cara.

The Celts knew that each person needed a mentor, a listener, counsel, a compassionate ear, a teacher who challenged, reassured, guided, encouraged – responded in complete honesty and utter confidentially, one who helped us on our journey, walked with us the whole way.

These ancient people knew that health relied on inner growth and healing and that honest conversation was the route to inner growth, self-understanding, and to the Spirit.  They knew that these conversations were sacred and mediated a relationship with God.  They knew that in these conversations God and love were present.

They recognized that these conversations knit us together in lasting friendship, that the experience of this sharing heightened in us the value of all things – large and small, of story-telling, of music, and poetry, literature, shared life, humor and laughter itself, common suffering, celebration, love and loyalty, and the beauty in all things from children to earth and sky.

These are the ones who, without fail and for all time, laugh and cry with us, live and die with us.  Without them live is not lived.

Realize from the wisdom of this ancient genius that you too need someone with whom you can speak in complete confidence and know that your words and you will find a home – always have a home.

With a soul friend, you never are alone – ever.