A note from Carl:
Before I begin this week’s writing, I wanted to let you know that we have an awesome workshop on walking and posture this weekend. Also, I will be hosting the full moon meditation in City Creek Canyon on Sunday morning at 7 am. (You can find details below.)
I just returned from a week-long men’s retreat in a redwood forest with Michael Meade and 85 other men. For me, looking into masculine archetypes was one of the early, profound openings in my life. Before I was drawn into the realm of meditation and embodiment practices, I stumbled across my dad’s copy of Iron John by Robert Bly when I was 19. It rocked my world. I read the book in one sitting and looking back, it was a significant turning point in my life.
It was so powerful to attend a retreat in the very hall where the modern men’s movement began, 40 some years ago, when Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade started these gatherings. So many streams of influence in my life have flowed from those waters: The teachings of Francis Weller, Martin Prechtel, Maldoma Some, Reggie Ray, William Stafford, Stephen Jenkinson, and many more have sung, and drummed, quarreled and grieved together amidst these same redwoods.
One of the things I appreciate about Michael Meade is that he teaches in the trenches. He goes into prisons, he works with gangs, he helps bring initiations to combat veterans returning home from war zones. One of the challenges in the worlds of meditation, yoga, Buddhism and depth psychology is that there is a significant lack of diversity as far as race and socioeconomics, in terms of who has access to these teachings and practices.
Michael Meade has a clear commitment to bringing different voices together in the room, and has set up scholarships to events as well as supporting inner-city mentoring programs. At this retreat, there were young men from Oakland and L.A., men who had been in gangs, men who were serving life sentences, men who are now teaching poetry in prisons, gay men, indigenous men, light and dark skinned men, young and old men. All of the issues around race, homophobia, grief, colonization, privilege, climate change, trauma, fathers and mothers were part of the stew in which we were marinating. And we lived together, wrote together, danced together, entered intense conflict together, deeply grieved together, drummed together, sang together, with only one rule: no physical violence.
There are so many forces that are driving deeper divisions in our culture, and in our world, that it can be easy to overlook what we share. I remember a line from the late Anthony Bourdain, where he said, essentially, “I hate just about everything that comes out of my friend, Ted Nugent’s mouth, we don’t agree on anything, but we share a love of barbeque, so that gives me hope for the world.”
Notorious RBG can have a deep friendship with Justice Scalia. Our 8-year old son and I can sit down for 20 minutes with the man with the Trump hat and gun shirt at the tackle store as he generously shares his secrets of how to catch wipers in Willard Bay. And I can spend a week with 85 men in the woods, from all walks of life, and navigate some of the most difficult seas that human beings encounter, and come out filled with hope for the world. As Mark Nepo writes in the following poem, “Other views wanted!”
An Open Hand
by Mark Nepo
The mind is not a storeroom
with mirrors where we
retreat to convince ourselves that
The mind is a living room with
windows and more than one chair,
so friends can come and look out and discuss what they see.
Not a fortress where we frisk and
strip others of what they believe
in order to share our secrets.
More a porch with birdfeeders
and coffee or tea where before
hello, you have to share a story.
Pull the curtains! Open the windows!
Brew the coffee!
Other views wanted!
Wishing you well,