Recently I spent an afternoon with three of my closest NMMW buddies. Near the end of our time together I led a 20 minute meditation. The instructions were like this: Imagine a 27 year-old man is seeking your advice. He has energy and passion and plenty of options, and lots of uncertainty about where he should go next in his life’s journey. His name is Nathan Manuel Mystery Wanderlust–he goes by Nate. He trusts in the wisdom that you, a ruggedly handsome grey beard, have acquired–during the span of his  quarter century on the planet–and a few decades before he arrived.  He eagerly awaits your guidance.

As you delve downward– into the cornucopia of meditation time/space, keep your eyes open for an image, a single word or a brief phrase–a simple gift that would assist Nate in his quest for direction and hope. When you open your eyes at the end of this guided meditation, please share your gift with Nate–and with the others within this circle.

20 minutes late we concluded our group meditation–four men sitting in a circle on wooden chairs within my cozy bedroom–filtered sunlight streaming though the window–the pervasive quiet interrupted gently by the sounds of a mildly distressed infant in the adjoining apartment Three Oooohhhmmms later–we gradually opened our eyes and surveyed the room and then each other.

So you may be curious about Christopher‘s message for Nate? So my fine young man, consider the Yellow Submarine–that’s right–the curious image from the 60’s era Beatles song–the  underwater craft that has all of your friends on board–and many more floating just outside the window. This chipper vessel travels freely through an abundant green sea–an ocean teeming with life–embraced from above by a dome of clear blue sky.Like its cousin, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Yellow Submarine has capacities for metamorphosis and transformation. Late for work? Well just push a button and she becomes an aircraft that rises above the pollution-rife snarl of rush hour traffic–and whisks you away–on a graceful beeline for your destination. Got the desire to explore outer or inner space? With a few crisp orders to your maties, and the clanging of a couple of warning bells, and you are well on your way.

The melody from the Yellow Submarine is an old British drinking song–recycled by that spirited and talented unruly haired foursome. Now Picture a group of men, young and old, sitting around a wooden table–in a pub with a glowing fire emanating from a stone hearth–a buxom waitress listens attentively, and prepares to fill their pitcher yet again– as the sound of these well worn, hearty and slightly tipsy voices fills the Pub–and filters out the windows to the neighboring cottages and over the neighboring fields.

Go West Young Men, and do consider a career in Plastics, and, finally, always remember the Yellow Submarine.

So there you have it. Are you curious about the messages from my three fellow meditators.  They may, or may not, divulge their answers in due course. Stay tuned.

With a smile,
Christopher

May 1, 2011

rfmj-bird

Fear no Evil as it might be Holy Darkness in Disguise;

playful collaboration, love and World healing

robert francis €œmudman€ johnson

€œDays pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. And we clay touched by God will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it” from the Gates of Prayer the New Union Prayer Book.

This is a story about how western corporate capitalistic culture took a clever but destructive detour in its thinking by not recognizing the wisdom of the Sacred Feminine, the Earth and the sentient spiritual aliveness of the natural world, and forgot the importance of kindness, compassion, sacredness and love in our lives.

(To read the balance of this essay, please click on this link.  It will download the Adobe Acrobat PDF of the entire essay to read or print in your Acrobat Reader.  Your comments are welcomed.)

. Blessings abound and love and love awaits…robert francis “mudman”johnson see me at http://earthprayers.byregion.net

The world is mud-luscious and puddle wonderful’ e.e. cummings

“anger and rage is love looking for a door” robert francis “mudman” johnson

“The church says: The body is a sin. Science says: The body is a machine. Advertising says: The body is a business.

The Body says: I am a fiesta !!Eduardo Galeano

See comment on this post for Evaluation Meeting summary!

Celebrating the NMMW 25th Fall Conference

October 22-25, 2009

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

root-wings-banner-sm

My heart is full; the conference flowed oh so well!  Thanks to all who made it so!

The Roots & Wings banner was hung.

Conference T-Shirts and NMMW caps adorned our bodies.

We, 75(+/-) men, gathered together Thursday evening and weaved a web of intentions by throwing balls of string across our circle.  We then chose which clan we would each be in based upon ideas related to Earth, Relationships, Service, Self-worth, Spirit and Creative Expression.  We met in these groups throughout the weekend to share thoughts, reactions & stories to increase our connections with ourselves & others. Thanks to each of the Clan Leaders and their co-leaders. The selection process was highlighted by lining up by the number of conferences each man had attended, initiating the process of celebrating the roots of New Mexico Men€™s Wellness.

Throughout the weekend we sang, (thank you, Charles, et al) drummed (thank you, Cliff for the use of your big drum) and connected via various Dances of Universal Peace, led by Maboud and Spirit.  We also had opportunities to €œjust be€ in the enchanted area that is Ghost Ranch.

Friday morning€™s directed activity around Forgiveness was an extremely powerful experience for me.  We paired up and connected via issues of forgiveness needed for ourselves and/or others.  The exercise was initially done without words.  Barry Cooney skillfully led us into deep feelings that we were able to convey in silence to the other man, taking turns being the €œspeaker€ and the €œlistener.€  The man I was paired with expressed a deep sense of €œbeing blown away€ by the energy I conveyed.  I came away with a sense that we each have tremendous abilities we don€™t allow to be manifested as often as we could.

Friday afternoon€™s opportunity to make, decorate and fly kites was €œout of this world€ for me.  (Thanks be to Joseph Woods and his committee!) I have no memory of ever having successfully flown a kite before.  (My father and uncle made and flew box kites when I was too young actually to participate in the activity.)  I took my kite out into the field to fly it; then promptly crashed it.  I took it back in for repairs; the man who helped me fix it €œbecame Dad€ for me.  I tearfully accepted and expressed appreciation for the assistance.  The rest of the afternoon was a blissful time; an ideal wind flew our kites within sight of the sandstone cliffs.  The wings were soaring.

Friday evening was highlighted by playing €œThe Wild Wind Blows€ in our clans, an opportunity to connect via sharing life experiences by stating, €œThe wild wind blows for anyone who . . . .€  Done in a style of musical chairs, anyone who also had that experience gets up and goes to find another seat, with another ending up in the center of the circle.  The types of pronouncements range from the ridiculous to the mundane to the serious and profound.  Everyone is given opportunities to find connections with others.

Saturday began before breakfast with the annual Grief Ceremony that provides opportunities for men to share senses of loss over loved ones who have died.  This is also a time to honor all veterans with a ceremonial hand washing experience and to share any sense of grief that can benefit from healing.

The Saturday morning session, wonderfully led by David Coffey, focused on dealing with the range of emotions that come up for each of us in our lives.  Each clan produced and presented a tableau of feelings in the form of a human sculpture.  A member of my men€™s group recently spent an hour & a half with Michael Angelo€™s David, connecting in a significant manner that was brought to mind for me during this activity.  Once again, I experienced the realization of the powerful opportunities we could have if we activated senses that we often allow to lie dormant.

Saturday afternoon included ceremonies to honor Elders and to form a Circle of Sages, the latter to honor twelve men seventy or older.  My dear friend Manuel Tafoya conceived of the idea of recognizing the wisdom of the eldest members of our community.  Thanks be to him, John Gervers and their committee. This activity for €œa few€ benefited the sense of connectedness of us all.  A special honoring occurred for Man, Alive!€™s first editor Chuck Cocklereas, who died just nine days prior to the start of the Conference, and his dear friend, octogenarian Harvey Frauenglass. In the evening we brought together the various decades, honoring all ages of our lives.

€œClans Alive€ highlighted Saturday night€™s activities as each clan made presentations celebrating the connections made in our groups, most, but not all, bordering on the outright hilarious and ridiculous. The Relationships Clan reprised €œThe Wild Wind Blows€ in a performance that demonstrated the powerful energies that connect us when we allow ourselves to share our heartfelt needs and desires.

The traditional Sunday morning activities of a €œTalking Circle,€ the clan farewell & intention setting gatherings and the Closing Ceremony completed the flow of the weekend.  I pronounced that the man who opened the conference on Thursday evening was not the same man who was closing it.

My NMMW journey actually began eighteen years ago at my first Fall Conference where I started the process of learning how to be myself as a man with other men.  Never having wanted to be the Conference Leader, I was led into and through a process that indeed celebrated Roots & Wings: The Connectedness of All for me and all who were present.  Thank you, brother Joseph for your connection with Spirit and creative energies that fanned & nurtured the theme.

A marvelous history, New Mexico Men€™s Wellness Fall Conference 25th Anniversary 1985-2009, compiled by Pat Sauer and edited by David Johnson, was made available.  I feel especially honored to be the man that completes the circle of leaders of the first quarter century of fall conferences.  Having relatively easily hosted the annual NMMW Cross-Country Ski Weekend since 1992, I was brought to a further level of leadership that was so buoyed by all who were on the planning committee that began the process with a retreat at Cooks€™ Cabin in May.  Special thanks to Michael Wilkinson, my co-leader; I couldn€™t have done it without you.  I know the 2010 Conference will continue the legacy of gatherings connecting men€™s hearts and souls.

Also, I now realize, at a deeper level, how instrumental so many men are to making each Conference the special event that occurs each Fall. Gaylon Duke is the linchpen.  Thanks be to €œAll-Ya€™-All!€

I am writing this summary while on a solo retreat at the Cabin, working to balance the energies of recuperation and dealing with the tasks of sustenance to continue the process of hosting gatherings that continue our life long celebrations of Roots & Wings.

Lawrence Cook, aka Flows w/ Fish Creek 11/2/09

(The following letter from Christopher King is being shared on nmmw.org as “Men’s Musings” blog post, and a variety of replies are being posted as comments.  We are planning to share the post and associated comments at the 25th NMMW Conference at Ghost Ranch where the theme of the Future of NMMW will be a significant part of the “Roots and Wings” theme.  Please register at this web site and add your input to the discussion.  – Jim Connolly, Webmaster, nmmw.org)


Dear Men of New Mexico Men’s Wellness,

I am writing to share some ideas I have been incubating for the last few weeks. I have had the opportunity to share some of this with our fall conference leader, Lawrence Cook, and I promised him at the time something in writing.  So I decided to craft a letter and send it to a bunch of my comrades in NMMW (a partial list for sure). I welcome your responses all–regarding our beloved organization’s mission and future. Please forward this to other men in NMMW who might find this worthwhile.

I am of two minds. I am deeply concerned about the future of New Mexico Men’s Wellness. I have zero concerns or worries about the future of New Mexico Men’s Wellness.

Are you familiar with the Shriners – those grey haired guys with the funny hats who have raised money for decades – to build and fund hospitals for children with severe illnesses?  At a St Patricks Day parade in Tucson about 5 years ago I watched their remarkable street performance – each man wearing a tasseled hat driving a motorized go-cart – about six of them at a time moving in tight formations.  Very low to the ground, they weaved deftly and flawlessly in and out of each other in cloverleaf patterns. The parade moved on – lots of red haired and freckled kids and adults riding floats and waving to the robust crowd. A while later a second group of Shriners appeared in go-carts half the size of the first ones. And their finale was a third group – riding even smaller carts – roughly the size of a toddlers ride-in sports car.  The men in all 3 groups were clearly having fun – while executing their choreographed motorized dance – with focus, humor and grace.

So below, I offer my views of areas of NMMW deserving attention.

One – We have the opportunity to further define our mission statement. I know that we are about achieving spiritual growth and development, about raising our children, supporting our families, living life fully and down to the spiritual marrow – about reveling in the wisdom, humor and stories of other men, of avoiding harm to self and others, of assisting those men we encounter on our journeys to overcome inner and outer challenges.

Is there a clear written framework for our outreach?  Given the name of our organization, what is our commitment to touching men who are brand new to our state, as well as to men whose families have dwelled here for centuries, to men whose first language is other than English, and to men who are hospital-bound or house-bound – due to old age or infirmity – physical, emotional or spiritual.  Are we concerned with men who live in Clayton, Hobbes or Deming – as well as with those who dwell in our major cities.

Two – We have the opportunity to beef up our collective service endeavors.  The opportunities for serving New Mexico based men and boys and their families and loved one – at this time in history – have never been more varied and compelling.  I am thinking of the huge veteran population – here in Albuquerque, and spread throughout our rural communities. I have had the privilege of working with many of these men for going on 2 years. I can attest to the tremendous depth of their individual and collective suffering – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – as well as to their honesty, deep caring for others, their survival skills and their resiliency. New Mexico Men’s Wellness has veteran-members, and has assisted veterans in the past. I believe we can do more.

I am recalling our boys and adolescents – many of them growing up in chaotic settings where they lack a father a mother or both. They are doing the best they can with limited guidance – in confronting abuse, substances, peer pressure, hunger and despair. NMMW has helped these boys and teenagers in the past. I believe we can do more.

I am thinking of our men living under incarceration – men who have suffered, are struggling to survive, and are in need of love, spiritual training and healthy connections with men living on the outside. Men’s Wellness has assisted these men in the past. And yes, I believe we can do more.

Finally – We have the opportunity to develop our formal NMMW structure/organzation. At a post fall conference meeting, held at Phil Davis’ sanctuary in the winter of 2008, we engaged in some planning -around forming a board, refining our bylaws,  enhancing our nonprofit status, and putting our finances in order. And I believe there is more to be done.

Down the road we may lose critical mass in our organization – as older guys die or move away at a faster rate than younger guys join us. Eventually a man picks up the stick – perhaps at the summer gathering -and over the course of the next 12 months, is unable, despite major efforts, to recruit others for the event he has solemnly agreed to host, and so the tradition dies. The fall conference would likely be the last conference – with its status as flagship gathering – and its record of having the largest attendance among the 5 yearly gatherings – 4 seasonal plus Father-Daughter.

So in October we will celebrate 25 years of vibrant community and successful gatherings. What will NMMW look like in 2036?  One obvious possibility is that NMMW will have no gatherings, no ceremonies, no website, no board of directors, and no bank accounts.  In this case, NMMW would have a legacy – its remarkable history – the rich stories, oral and written, and sensory memories in the minds of the surviving members – memories of gatherings past, lifelong friendships, transformative ceremonies, and men’s groups spawned, forged and steeped in many settings.

I see a young bearded history buff fingering timeworn copies of Man Alive or perusing the Internet – having typed in a Google search – using the guidewords: men, spirituality, community, New Mexico. A friend of mine Iris Keltz, a writer and retired APS teacher recently crafted a book – Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie – that recounts the history of the New Buffalo Commune – during its early 1970s heyday at Morningstar outside of Taos. Perhaps someday there will exist a published definitive history of NMMW – and an avid historian NMMW guy will cart his boxes of hardcover editions to book signings at places like Bookworks in the North Valley – where he will engage his audience with a selection of spiritually rich and colorful male-intensive stories. The audience will listen raptly – while sipping decaf and munching on chocolate covered strawberries.

The coincidence I am living is that my smaller men’s group, aka the Gila Monsters, (started in 1993, currently 9 members strong) is going through its own evolutionary choicepoint. Having collectively identified and voiced a recent pattern of diminishment – in attendance, and clarity about our purpose – we have elected to confront the trend. In our summer meetings we are talking over our future as a men’s group – what are we about and how will we structure our future endeavors/gatherings?.  My hope for New Mexico Men’s Wellness Community is a similar conscious engagement – with the important issues of the times.

For myself, I am eager to add my hands, heart and mind to the collective enterprises of refining our mission and crafting our future.

Viva New Mexico Men’s Wellness!

With sparkling eyes and a broad grin,

Your brother, Christopher