Posted by: Mark Nielsen | July 16, 2012

Men’s Rites of Passage – Aug 15-19, 2012 *It’s not too late to sign up*

Yep, that’s me, Chubby Boy. I’m holding a little plastic kiddie Rosary that I repurposed, probably talking to Gary about our MROP drum circle, or old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, or what else Jonah’s whale coughed up onshore with him (that’s the MALEs logo on the banner behind us).

In a busier than usual summer, I have not written much about the healing, challenging, generous, disciple-making and growth-producing spiritual formation work that I continue to do. Maybe that’s okay… can’t spend too much time writing when I should actually be DOING the good work — as a dad, son, brother, friend, church member, employee, artist, citizen (etc etc etc).

The work continues, though. And the inner rewards continue to pile up. I’m also picking up opportunities here and there to re-teach what I’ve been learning about prayer, spiritual formation, silence, nature and creative, conscious living… about trusting myself, and then trusting God still more. Quaker writer and alternative education pioneer Parker Palmer calls this process “listening to your Life”. My mentor Father Richard Rohr and his peers and predecessors– like Thomas Merton, Cynthia Bourgeault, Thomas Keating, Ken Wilber, the Dalai Lama and the original blissed-out Nature Boy himself, St. Francis of Assissi– call it contemplation.

Though I’m still a novice at developing that contemplative mind–and then living the whole of my day out of that peaceful place– I also know that it’s not about becoming an expert, it’s just about continuing to practice. And while practice does not, in fact, always make perfect, “perfect” is a myth anyway, …and perfectionism is yet another potential addiction.

Practice, if we do it right, first just makes for better practice. Which then makes for better execution, when the time is right to act. Which makes me better today than I was yesterday — healthier, more generative, walking more steadily in the Way that Jesus taught.

Which brings us to my invitation:

I started picking up speed in the practice of spiritual disciplines by making the Men’s Rite of Passage in August of 2008. It was a life-changing four days, very transformative, mostly because we initiates moved beyond talking about what made us tick (or ticked us off, or made us sick, or made living with us difficult for others), and learned some very practical, memorable, and repeatable techniques and rituals for doing something different than what hadn’t been working before.

I got deep insight into some of my true motivations, purposes and hopes in this life. I embraced my Shadow Self, which I had been neglecting too long (click there for a sample, an extended dream analysis blog post about me keeping a pet lion, written a little while after making the Rites). I danced around the fire, banged a drum like a madman, befriended the spiders, slayed dragonflies (not really), sat in one place for longer than I ever have, met Jesus the Wild Man, and made some lifelong friends

So if you’re curious, check the basic details below. The MROP only runs every two years in Illinois, so either strike now while the iron is hot, or look to make the Rites at another regional chapters’ event in the future (Minnesota, Texas, California, New Mexico, etc… there are several strong programs out there, plus some international ones).

Click thru to the IL/Midwest MALEs website here  for more details and registration. And feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I plan to be there at the tail end of the long weekend to welcome and encourage the new Initiated Men!

*  *  *  *  * 

Men’s Rites of Passage – Illinois Midwest Dates:  August 15 – 19, 2012

Location:  Pilgrim Park Retreat Center near Princeton, IL

Cost: $565

What is the “Rites of Passage” for men? The program is a five-day/four-night deeply prayerful and soulful experience that builds on the classic patterns of male initiation through simple and moving rituals and teaching. Each day includes group prayer, major teachings on central masculine spirit-uality themes, quiet time for reflection, and sharing in the context of a “home group.”

In the words of the program’s founder, Fr. Richard Rohr: “Men are asked to come with a willingness to participate from beginning to end and not as an observer. All participants begin at point zero with no agendas to live up to or down to. All that is required is for a man to come with a ‘beginner’s mind’ and the readiness of a young novice seeking wisdom. Ultimately, initiation, like life itself, is not a spectator sport.”

What the MROP is…

  • A personal discovery about masculine spirituality and ‘the Holy Mystery.’
  • A time to savor the healing and awesome power of nature.
  • A process to address issues of loss, grief, and relationships with father, other men, and oth-ers.
  • An opportunity to examine life’s priorities and ask courageous questions about your ‘next step.’
  • An invitation to listen to the ‘quiet voice of God.’
  • A chance to return to life with a renewed com-mitment to your gifts.

For more details click here to see our M.R.O.P. Page.


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