It is with deep gratitude and a bittersweet sense of sadness that my latest men’s group has come to an end. It feels like an end of an era. I have been involved with this crucible of committed connection for over forty years.
I was asked to lead my first men’s group at the tender age of twenty-two. I was easily the youngest and only single guy in the group. Little did I know that leading something I had never done before would become such a predominant theme in my life! I led with courage and grew into competence. Many good men are responsible for growing me up along the way.
In the midst of other men, it is quite an invitation to be vulnerable in an American male culture that is predominantly competitive. The phrase that comes to mind is – Like bringing a knife to a gunfight. In other words – pretty stupid. Most guys never have the opportunity to share past the typical conversations of job, sports, weather, etc. And that inherent vulnerability that the group co-created was always seen as the safe container/crucible for the growing edge of each of us individually and as a group.
As I reflect on my overall experience, I am certain there is enough material and stories to fill a book. And if I had to distill it all down to one word – loving - comes to mind. It has been in this crucible where I better learned what it meant to love myself and others. In the spiritual life, we are asked not to harden our hearts. In the company of other men, breaking open my heart and keeping it tender has been a gift beyond measure. I believe it has contributed to me being a better person as a friend, father, and husband. Deep gratitude.
So, where are you vulnerable enough to allow the crucible of committed connection to transform you? Is it in your family, with a particular group of friends, at work, or somewhere else? If you do not currently have a crucible, it is never too late to find one. Show up with an open heart and allow others to transform you into your best self.
African proverb – “If you want to go fast – go alone. If you want to go far – go together.”