Blog posts like busses….you wait ages and two come along at once. Sorry! Note to self: be more consistent.
Anyway, wanted to blog about what I reckon must have been one of the most authentic experiences of community I’ve had for a long while. I’ve been doing a bit of reading of the writings of Fr Richard Rohr, who is a Fransiscan priest/friar. He writes prolifically on spirituality in general, but male spirituality in particular and has spoken of the need for men to find a kinship of brotherhood as well other stuff.
Anyway, there are groups of men who gather to explore experientially some of the stuff Rohr writes about. I finally got the chance to meet up with a group of men up in Lindisfarne recently. It was just a great day and I felt incredibly released and freed by it in many ways. There were around 10 of us.
To begin with, after obligatory cups of tea, we entered into a time of what you could loosely call ‘worship.’ You have to understand that the invite to this group said ‘bring your drum.’ I loved both the implications that one would possess a drum and the implication that one should be prepared to beat one anyway. It just so happens I got a bodhran for Christmas, so gladly took it along. And so, we drummed for a good half hour or so. It was good. Fantastic, actually. Professional drummers we were not, but we made a ‘joyful noise.’
After this, we talked. Not just randomly, but purposefully. There was, in the middle of the room, a little stone carving of men in a huddle with a candle in the middle. And then there was the ‘talking stick’….just a normal bit of stick with ‘speak truthfully’ carved on the side. Each man, when holding the stick, spoke from the heart of how things were for him at the moment. We talked about what we sense was dying off in our lives and what was just beginning to root. Just holy moments, actually, giving full attention to the others.
The great thing was, that having shared, no one offered any advice. No one tried to fix you. No one tried to analyse or pass judgement. At the end, the speaker declared ‘Ho!’ and the chorus came back ‘Ho! After sharing, it was out for a walk. We built a fire on the beach, ate cremated sausages and talked casually before going back to the cottage for a final drumming and talk session.
It was a great day, really refreshed by it. Cathartic, theraputic, worshipful, reflective, eye opening and active all at the same time. Refreshed by the openness of honest men. In fact, if Carlsberg did ‘Jesus and the disciples’, it would probably look a lot like that. [No alcoholic beverages were consumed in the making of this story].
The questions is leaves me with are many, including: How many men are our churches failing due to the nature and composition of our ‘worship services?’ ‘How many men are failing to reach spiritual depth due to lack of authentic expression of worship etc?’ ‘What opportunities to man have to develop spiritually in a helpful environment?’ ‘How much attention do we give to making male spiritual development appropriately expreriential and action based?’ ‘How do we understand and create space for men’s needs to talk in an environment that is open, honest and that has integrity?’
I can’t wait for the next opportunity to meet. Ho!