In 1997 an Irish monk wrote a book that captured the imagination of many and crossed denominational boundaries. The title "Anam Cara" (unnam kara) was a Gaelic term meaning "soul friend" and referred to the mentoring and advisory process. It was based on an older meaning that stemmed from ancient Celtic beliefs that the soul glowed with a nimbus or halo and when a person encountered other people the glow could magnify in strength. If it did so, it was a clear indication of a "soul friend" who would be loyal and true.
“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.” ― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
The Wesleyan United Societies emerged as a way by which people could share a covenantal relationship, know they were not alone on the journey of faith, and have developed in them positive habits of prayer, accountability, confession and encouragement.
As such, these groups functioned as mentors and advisors to one another as they asked their questions. The questions themselves served to cause reflection, dedication and faith. How goes it with your soul? Has anything come between you and prayer, service, church? What have you done to advance the cause of the Gospel? Are there any issues that keep you from fully serving God and loving your fellow humans?
Sometimes, people in helping work can be the most lonely and isolated. They give and give of themselves but are so often never filled themselves by gracious acts and loving kindness that supports and builds.
Everyone needs someone to let them know they do not travel the road alone. Everyone needs someone to help put their problems in perspective and to minimize fears that grow to giant proportions when alone in the dark of isolation. Everyone needs a gentle, loving, honest, and faithful friend to keep them on their path, help them be true to their best self, and remind them of the ultimate, eternal, goal.
Many people could benefit from rediscovering the "Soul Friend" who mentors, advises and is our friend. Clergy spouses often need these more than others because they are without a pastor. Who ministers to those who minister? Who serves those who serve?