a Gift Received and Offered
In about 3 weeks I will be on staff for a ManKind Project men’s weekend for the first time since 2013. I stopped staffing shortly before my wife and I became adoptive parents. Now … the kids are older and more regularly stable, and our family can handle separation and transition with more ease.
This will be the 12th time I’ve had this opportunity and responsibility. And it’s a serious responsibility. Hundreds of hours of effort by dozens of men across New England.
It was 2004 when I attended this training. It’s changed some since then. It keeps changing. And what continues to amaze me is that I can still feel and remember that weekend in April 2004 in my whole body. The feeling of aliveness, exhaustion, and connection.
I’m sitting with excitement, serious intention, and a healthy dose of fear. There will be men there, like me, who have been hiding out, disconnected, suffering, alone. There will be men there, like me, who are looking for more meaning, passion, and purpose in their lives. There will be men there, like me, who have believed they’ve found all the answers in the books they’ve read and the podcasts they’ve listened to and the accomplishments they’ve recorded. I honor that work.
And I also know what it’s like to be in a living breathing sacred space with men. It’s not only about our physical bodies. Our bodies come in a range of different configurations of parts and hormones, genes and neurons. It’s not only about our socialization. Our socialization looks all kinds of ways. It’s not only about the shared experiences and identities. I know men who have experiences that I can’t even imagine, and identities radically different than mine.
We hold an intention to learn through adventure and experience together what each of us has struggled to learn on our own. And somehow it works. Somehow a kind of magic is created.
I didn’t know that other men felt as I did. Now I believe that every man I meet shares some of the shadows and gold that I carry within. I didn’t know that there are men who can be trusted to hold the grief, anger, regret, shame, and fear of other men … along with joy, gratitude, tranquility, and wonder! Now I know because I have seen it and created space for it.
I didn’t know that there is a way of being with men that is supportive and purpose-filled … that builds each man up and helps him see more clearly the goodness, power, and responsibility he is gifted with in this life.
I didn’t know the joy of connecting and getting to know men so very different than me, and yet the same. Each man’s journey is unique. And that is part of the gift.
We can lessen the burden we carry and we can lessen the harm we inflict. We can forgive and find mercy. We can love better and communicate more fully. We can empower the best in one another, through our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.
Doing this has made possible the best things in my life — my relationships with my wife and my children.
That’s why I’ll give a significant amount of time to make this happen. That’s why I’ll be there and assist the men coming as participants.
It was a gift that other men created for me, without ever having met me.
How about you? Is this a gift you would like to receive?