In my quest to connect more deeply with my brothers, I recently attended “Manhood”, a men’s weekend on becoming a better man. I’ve never been to a men’s event before, but I’m for sure interested in becoming a better man.
I missed the Friday night welcome activities, instead driving in through majestic hill country on Saturday morning. Following a couple of guys into a hall, where a workshop was starting, I introduced myself to the leader. He kindly explained what was going on and invited me to join in. The smiling and relaxed men gave me such a warm welcome that I dropped my bags and sat down.
The workshop title was De-Armouring. Excellent, as I have carried so much armour through my life and I’m keen to lay down this burden, that painfully separates me from my fellows.
At Manhood each man was issued a wooden name tag and the colored bandana of his tribe for the weekend. At the daily tribal gathering, each man was invited in turn to share his experience of the weekend and whatever else was on his mind. It was not permitted to interrupt, judge, fix or give an opinion about his story and to me this felt luxurious.
So, what is a better man? At Manhood, each man gets to define this for himself. Men are merely invited to connect with their brothers in an open-hearted, open-minded and non-judgmental way. It startled me to witness and experience this first hand –– these men were unafraid to drop their guard, be their entire selves, open their lives, their triumphs and their suffering for sharing and support. I have never enjoyed such ease around a big group of men.
The faces of the men around me showed that they too were feeling the acceptance, brotherhood and safety that Manhood created. Men beamed, hugged, listened and relaxed into themselves.
Suddenly it was OK to be the men they were. It lit a fire inside of them. We belonged together.
This belonging is surely what community is meant to be?
My own aspiration to become a better man is about cultivating an open heart and being of service. I want to be there for others, with others, free to be authentic, strong and gentle. I believe so wholeheartedly in this work that I have joined the organizing committee for next year’s event. Aussie blokes – see you there?
Men if you feel frustrated, lonely, misunderstood, inadequate, ashamed, hurt or unfulfilled I encourage you to seek out a men’s group. Find brotherhood wherever you can.
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See also http://manhood.org.au/