Service: Anam Ċara & the Divine Echo

Anam Ċara & the Divine Echo

Opening Words:

Today we are going to explore what it means

to Belong to one another.

There is an Ojibway Prayer in our Hymnal that reads:


Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation

Only the human family

Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones

Who are divided

And we are the ones

Who must come back together

to walk the Sacred Way.


Sacred One,

Teach us love, compassion, and honor

That we may heal the earth

And heal each other.

Chalice Lighting

We light this chalice as a symbol of our faith and in recognition for the light of divinity we each carry within us, each adding to the flame of love.

First Hymn: #188 Come, Come Whoever You Are

Time for All Ages: Silly Geese

click image to read Time for All Ages

First Reading: What Makes Us Stronger, Jax Teller

There’s an old saying, ‘that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ 

I don’t believe that. 

I think the things that try to kill you 

make you angry and sad. 

Strength comes from the good things:

your family, your friends, and the satisfaction of hard work. 

Those are the things that’ll keep you whole. 

Those are the things to hold on to when you’re broken.

Second Hymn: #323 Break Not the Circle

Second Reading: That’s What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick

(And) I never thought I’d feel this way
And as far as I’m concerned
I’m glad I got the chance to say
That I do believe,

I love you

And if I should ever go away
Well, then close your eyes 

and try to feel 

the way we do today

And then if you can – remember:

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me,

for sure
That’s what friends are for

For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side

forever more

That’s what friends are for.

Sermon: Anam Ċara & the Divine Echo

by Rev. “Twinkle” Marie Manning

Consider with me this:

There is a divine echo that whispers within every heart.

Indeed, that every soul carries with it

the echo of a intrinsic intimacy.

An original echo that is brought fourth through time

from original source.

A primal source where we

are all One.

Where intimacy has no limit

and love has no barrier.

And we carry the essence of this original echo

as a talisman of our divinity

and a reminder of the vast belonging we are capable of.

Because it is who we are.

We Belong to each other.

Consider that this divine echo,

the one I carry,

the ones you each carry,

are in constant recognition of each other.

When we are harmonious with each other,

the recognition alights us with positive, light, joyful, peaceful feelings. 


The negative, sad, fearful or angry emotions we feel about each other

are a result of the echo noticing

the disharmony with Oneness.

The Celtic Spiritual Tradition has a phrase

that identifies this sense of Oneness. 

It is called Anam Ċara.    Soul Friends.

More than words, it is a concept imbued with deep meaning. 

Derived from the understanding of the Soul as a divine echo.

Consider that each of our Souls have a signature resonance

that radiates throughout and around our physical bodies.

And that when we come in contact with others,

especially our Anam Ċara,

an awakening takes place. 

An awareness of the connection.

In our modern day, some romanticize this feeling and create limits around its capacity. 

Suggesting only one other person on this entire planet

could be your Anam Ċara.

A soul mate.


But the embodiment of Anam Ċara is much more far-reaching than that.

Anam Ċara is a blessing we all have access to

and can share with each other. 

When you have found the most sacred place of belonging,

where your inner light recognizes

and is recognized by

those in your company,

you have found home. 

When you have found the most sacred place of belonging,

where your inner light recognizes

and is recognized by

those in your company,

you have found home. 

And it is there that Anam Ċara resides.

It is there that Anam Ċara can be explored.

It is also there that Anam Ċara can be challenged. 

And will be.

For it is within our most intimate relationships

that our deep bonds are formed.

And to experience intimacy, one must be vulnerable. 

And to be vulnerable in the midst of others who are as imperfectly perfect as we are,

we risk being hurt.

But we also open to being nurtured and healed.

I ask you to consider that while we may know things about each other,

it does not mean

we know each other.

Yes, while we may know things about each other,

it does not mean we know each other.

Opening to Anam Ċara gives us the opportunity

to know each other.

Anam Ċara.

Soul Friends.

Consider that this Divine Echo is our touchstone;

Our reminder that we are Anam Ċara

And our promise that we are blessings to each other.

Rev. Ian White Mayer tells us that when you bless someone, everything in your life changes.

A Friendship Blessing in the words of John O’Donohue

May you be blessed with good friends.

May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.

May this change you.

May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.

May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.

May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.

May you never be isolated.

May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your Anam Ċara. 


Throughout time many have spoken about the priceless value of friendship, and of friendship’s complexities. 

Our Unitarian forefather, Ralph Waldo Emerson asserted:

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily,

but with roughest courage.

When they are real,

they are not glass threads or frost-work,

but the solidest thing we know.

Aristotle spoke of the highest kind of friendship being one of virtue.

The kind of friendship where you are friends with someone because of the kind of person he or she is; that is, because of his or her virtues. 

In Aristotle’s day “virtues” would have meant ethics. 

Within the realm of our Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, we would be speaking of our shared values and how we live into them.   

Aristotle spoke too of the partnership of friendships,

the idea of the virtuous friend as “another self.” 

(Joined as in the echo of divinity)

Friends holding mirrors up to one another

so they have access to see themselves,

and each other,

more fully.

And in doing so,

improve the quality of the people they are.

And in doing that,

enhance the quality of the friendships they share.

Helen Schucman in relaying A Course in Miracles also refers to the mirror of friendships. 

She says:

“Your brother is the mirror in which you see the image of yourself.”

She urges us to seek to recognize our brothers and sisters,

both as a means for salvation

and as a mechanism of blessing and being blessed. 

She affirms:

“You will not see the light until you offer it to your brothers. 

As they take it from your hands,

so will you recognize it as your own”

She declares that when we meet anyone to remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see him (your brother) you will see yourself.

As you treat him you will treat yourself.

As you think of him you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

She continues by explaining:

“Whenever two Sons of God meet they are given another chance at salvation.”

She says:

“Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him

and receiving it yourself.”

In other words, your Anam Ċara is always there with you,

in remembrance of you.

Poet and Author David Whyte takes this theme to an even deeper level, suggesting:

Friendship is not only a mirror to presence

but a testament to forgiveness.

He says:    

“Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes,

but can be sustained over the years only with someone

who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses

as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn.

A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight,

a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them.

An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing

exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered

again and again through understanding and mercy.

All friendships of length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness.

Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.”

Whyte says:

“In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal

the shadow in the other as much as ourselves,

to remain friends we must know the other

and their difficulties

and even their sins and encourage the best in them,

not through critique but through addressing the better part of them,

the leading creative edge of their incarnation,

thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.”

“And yet,” he says, “friendship is a merited grace,

one that requires of us the unrelenting commitment

of being present with

and bearing witness to

one another, over and over.”

It is within the sacred space of this deep dynamic of friendship that we not only know things about each other

But where we really know each other.

A Blessing of our Mirrors in Friendship

May we hold our mirrors lovingly in friendship

to allow us to fully understand ourselves and each other.

May these mirrors reflect in kindness what we most need to see.

May we understand that we are capable of being loved

no matter what wounds we still carry,

no matter what mistakes we still make.

May we know that we are capable of loving generously,

even beyond our wildest imaginations.

May we see beyond the shadow and into the Soul.


My friend and colleague, Ian White Mayer, whose words I shared already in this sermon revealing to us that when we bless someone everything in our life changes. 

He also talks about our deep need for Empathetic Witness. 

The kind of seeing, and being seen, that only happens in the close circles of family, of community, of relationships. 

That’s right, in our Anam Ċara friendships.

In the Buddhist tradition, this kind of friendship is called

the “Noble Friend.” 


Kalyana-mitra/Noble Friends have no pretense between them.

They witness in empathy and in action,

with clear communication

and by gentle strength confronting each other with our blind spots.

Friendships at this level are able to navigate challenges and heal wounds

for they are willing to negotiate beyond the awkwardness and uncertainties that are paramount when our vulnerabilities are exposed.

It requires humility as well to be open to seeing through another’s eyes what we are unable to perceive on our own. 

It requires grace to accept this sight without defensiveness. 

It requires grace to offer this sight without judgement. 

To be present with each other in this way is a testament of trust

and the embodiment of faith.

And faith is certainly needed when we shine the gentle light of the Soul on our wounds. 

We are indeed a wounded gift to each other,

but a beloved gift nonetheless.

David Whyte speaks about the benefit of this depth of friendship in saying:

“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is witness,

the privilege of having been seen by someone

and the equal privilege of being granted the sight

of the essence of another,

to have walked with them

and to have believed in them,



just to have accompanied them on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

As a faith community, how do we become accessible to facilitating the nurturing of that kind of friendships?

Author Anne Lamott has some advice for us

where we could see ourselves as a Lighthouse. 

She points out that:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there, shining.”

Every day that this church opens its doors, it stands as a lighthouse, shining,

beckoning those who would be saved into our loving embrace. 

Beckoning our Brothers and Sisters, our Anam Ċara,


Lamott, in her book Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, has a chapter containing her essay about The Book of Welcome.

Her essay could well be the outline for a liturgical midrash that attempts to fill in the spaces left blank in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In “The Book of Welcome,” Lamott imagines a Bible book that was never written.    

She speaks of scriptures that would provide a set of guidances and assurances and principles

that would create a sense of security and belonging

for Earth’s residents.

She writes:

“The welcome book would have taught us that power and signs of status can’t save us,

that welcome — both offering and receiving — is our source of safety.

Various chapters and verses of this book would remind us

that we are wanted and even occasionally delighted in,

despite the unfortunate truth that we are greedy-grabby, self-referential, indulgent, overly judgmental, and often hysterical.”

In her version, we would be accepted for our gifts and our apparent flaws. 

We are welcome because we Belong to each other.

Lamott asserts that

Somehow that book “went missing”…

Perhaps “when the editorial board of bishops pored over the canonical lists from Jerusalem and Alexandria, they arbitrarily nixed the book the states unequivocally

that you are wanted,

even rejoiced in.”

She says

“We have to write that book ourselves.”

And I say,

we have to write that book together.

And we do write that book together with every encounter of Welcome we share.

We write The Book of Welcome every time we acknowledge the echo of divinity in our hearts and in our Anam Ċara.

We write The Book of Welcome every time we gather together in response to our members’ needs, hopes and dreams.

We write The Book of Welcome every time we answer the call to

invite and greet

new ones into our spiritual family.

We write The Book of Welcome every time we unite in the name of this congregation and evangelize in response to the calls of unity, and justice and standing on the side of love.

We write The Book of Welcome together every time we open the doors to this church.

A Blessing for Our Congregation

May this house of worship be blessed.

May this congregation be loving to each other.

May our doors remain open to welcome the stranger seeking spiritual solace and inspiration.

May we deepen our friendships in trust and in faith.

May we find peace and create peaceableness as we live into our shared values.

May we be joy-full and thoughtful, and

May we be a light of grace and a beacon of welcome

to the world, and

May we remember that we

Belong to each other.


Closing Hymn: #1021 Lean on Me (insert)

Closing Words

May we each recognize the Echo of Divinity in our hearts.

May we recognize the Echo of Divinity in each other.

May we recognize our Anam Ċara when we meet them.

May we love them every day of our lives.

And so it is.

Blessed Be and Amen.

Postlude: Jason Curran, Musician