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Men and Spirituality

Yes, it was a beautiful spring 70 degree day in Colorado. Yes, we are expecting somewhere up to 5 inches of snow between tonight and tomorrow night. And on the first day of Spring…yes, more snow likely. But that’s just fine with me because it is watering the yard – for free – thank you, Mother!

I just bought a book by Matthew Fox: The Hidden Spirituality of Men. I’ve enjoyed Fox’s work and have participated in workshops and circle dances for peace with him. He has done so much to steer the spiritual ship of humanity in a more reasoned and less hysterical/blind belief direction over the past 20+ years. It’s hard to believe his Original Blessing was published in 1983! I have not read his more recent works so I am looking forward to reconnecting with him, especially around the issue of men and spirituality. In the preface to this current work, he provides a couple dozen reasons he believes men’s spirituality remains hidden. I’m sure you can come up with a list that parallels Fox’s; the reasons range from insecurity to lack of training and vocabulary to the usual masculine cliches. And it’s a good list. But it strikes me that it is a list of passive traits; it’s a list of excuses we have made up and hide behind. And there is an active item that is not on Fox’s list: I think our culture, our society, what my teacher, Martín Prechtel, would call “the empire”, wants to repress spirituality in men, especially when we are at war, even a made up war – the so called “global war on terror.” (And we always seem to be at war, or preparing for war – hence the enormous defense budget we pay for every year.)  Now, I’m not interested here in conspiracy theories or hypothesizing deliberate propaganda  campaigns to keep men from expressing ourselves in spiritual terms. But I do think there is a decided and purposeful lack of encouragement for men to get deeply in touch with our spirituality.

In any case I am very much looking forward to reading this book. To a large extent Fox’s subject is why I am writing this blog. If he provides a way forward so men do begin to reveal their ‘hidden spirituality” I will recommend it highly!

Meanwhile, I believe there is much evidence out there that men are becoming more forthcoming about their spiritual lives. I am encouraged by two very recent examples from my own life:

I hope you all read my blog on Monday when I posted an essay on the Harbingers of Spring by Don Ellis.  These are words from a man who is very much in touch with his spirituality.  He writes “If I could choose to live again the Springtime of my life, I would again choose to live it where the meadow lark announces the season of reawakening.” Eloquent words spoken from the heart.

And yesterday I was with a friend and shared with him a dream I have to circumambulate the sacred mountain in western Tibet, Mt. Kailash. This is a pilgrimage of many faiths, especially for Buddhists and Hindus. The mountain is considered the “navel of the earth” or the Axis Mundi. It has never been climbed; that is not allowed. It is walked around; the trek takes days and the high-point of the walk is crossing Drolma La Pass at 18,000 feet. I first read of this pilgrimage in Circling the Sacred Mountain by Robert Thurman and Tad Wise, a lovely book of spiritual teachings by Thurman and an entertaining travelogue by Wise. And as soon as I finished the book I wanted to set out! I am now, if I’m lucky, two years away from this dream. But I digress! After sharing my dream with my friend I later have dinner with him and his wife. In addition to the lovely dinner I am given a gift bag, complete with a beautiful picture of Mt. Kailash, Tibetan incense and prayer flags.  He said he wanted to energize my dream! I don’t call that “hidden” spirituality.

I am encouraged. And I write to be even more encouraging. It is time for men to express their feelings, their joy and grief, their spiritual insights. How do you express your spirituality? And if you don’t, now is the time to start. Respond here with your thoughts, dreams, fears, and insights. It is a safe place! Blessings for your journey around “the sacred mountain.”

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