June 10, 2006

Anam Cara

Not to give anyone whiplash after my previous email, but today I glimpsed the life I might have lived if I never got married.

We’re staying with an American-Irish woman at the moment. She facilitated our entire trip over here. She’s in her fifties, has never been married and has poured her life into encouraging, equipping and loving the Irish. I’m glad to be married to my husband, but I could also see myself quite content to have done what Facilitator Woman has done with her life.

Today I finished the website drafts. Once I posted them, we (Facilitator Woman and I) left to go shopping. Since marriage to a Korean I’ve become indoctrinated in the necessity of returning home with gifts. I won’t spoil any surprises but, OTRsis, you’re getting what you deserve…OTRdad—your bounty is paid…Jrex, you’ve tried the Scotch, now you’ll have to try something Irish. For myself I found a little white teapot with matching cream and sugar containers, as well as a tea cozy to cover the pot while it brews. I’m excited to export some Barry’s tea and continue my new tea addiction at home.

After shopping we drove an hour to see the glorious west coast of Ireland. Just inland from the cliffs are some of Ireland's bogs. Here is machine-harvested turf standing to dry before being packed for sale. I thought about a scarf, or golf paraphanalia, or a pewter ornament, but instead I’m bringing a bit of turf home to give to my father-in-law. When you really care, only the best will do!

We wandered along the cliffs, ate at a pub, and returned to her family home for tea. The whole day we chattered away. She has experienced so many ‘ugly Americans’ who come in here and want to tell the Irish how they ‘should’ be doing things. We connected on values of hospitality, of being in a culture and learning from it without pre-judging from the outside, losing a parent to cancer, mentoring others in healthy conflict, and being ‘third-culture kids’.

During the drive she shared with me part of what the Irish Evangelicals are looking for from Americans. It’s not someone to tell them what to do, rather they are seeking people to come alongside them. Once while discussing mentorship vs friendship with an Irish pastor and his wife, he smiled and said, “Ah, Anam Cara. That’s an old Irish Christian notion. Having a soul friend: two peers coming together to talk about what Jesus is teaching them, encouraging each other and praying for each other.”

Here's the view from Facilitator Woman's kitchen! She gave me an open invitation to come back to Ireland and bring my husband. She suspects that when some of the other believers here see the sites I’ve done they may want something similar. I’m humbled that she would want me back. I’m excited about the cool stuff I bought, but more than anything else, today I experienced Anam Cara.

Well, she did also teach me a recipe for hot mulled port. I suppose that might be just as crucial, right?


scarp said...

your sure you didn't want to give any one whiplash??

two very interesting posts - thanks for sharing both.

i really like, and yet am afraid i'll forget, the phrase anam cara. there is always something special in learning a)something they consider important in another culture and b)how they speak of it...

OTR sis said...

SOAP. Yeah!!

otr sis said...

Nothing wrong with realizing just how much you need your husband but also how you could still be fulfilled without him.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking anam cara meant the same thing as Lucy Maud Montgomery's Ann of Green Gables idea of kindred spirit.... so I did a Google search on Anam Cara... and I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I liked your description and my first notion better.

I am glad that the world has such friends whatever they are called.

L said...

Your experience over there sounds so amazing.