WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN LIFE THESE DAYS?
Comfortable or not, we live in times technology races before us, connecting people all over the world with touch pads while deep political divisions and confrontations push the populace further apart. Uncertainty, income disparities and life spans are increasing.
We seem invited to not remain silent. To slow down and think more about what our experience has taught us and what matters to us. And in better understanding ourselves, to go after the right balance for our lives.
The book So Dad, What Makes a Man? : A Narrative on the Male Identity is my memoir in response to my son asking me what makes a man, at a time in my midlife I did not have a personal relationship with God. But I had learned the most important part of my life was not my job, it was my relationship with my wife. It took sixteen years before I responded to Tristan with my memoir, having recognized I could not tell him or any other man what to do, but only tell him my own story. To the extent my experiences trying to find meaning beyond work have touched on some universal themes, my stories also provide subjects for you to compare to your experience.
I came to view my spirituality as my personal relationship with God, the creator of all that is seen and unseen, and religion as the church choice I make to foster that relationship in the company of others.
Two good men, Lloyd Guerin and Luis Canales, and I have created a workshop called "A Walking Tour of Male Spirituality" at the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston to explore those themes through questions in groups that give men a chance to hear other men's stories and discover none of us is alone. A key to our workshop is creating a safe place for men to talk about themselves without worrying about making a good impression or having to defend themselves, as well as hearing other men's experiences.
One man who participated in this workshop said it had more impact on him when he verbalized his own thoughts about life and heard others do the same, than he received just reading the book. Another man said after participating in the group discussion he felt relieved to be able to talk about his life's ups and downs and felt affirmed that what he thinks is okay. Others mentioned the value of learning how to handle anger and be a Christian in a confrontational world. Benefits included a better understanding of how big the landscape of life for men really is and getting support through life transitions.
May this new Walking Tour of Male Spirituality contribute to you exploring meaning in your life. Later this year I hope to publish a Facilitator's Guide for the workshop so your men's group could conduct it among yourselves.