Posted by: Mark Nielsen | September 10, 2012

Stones & Rejects -MROP Gleanings 2012

Stone steps leading down from the peak of Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa). Villagers climb down the 3,750 “steps of penitence” that descend from the “Arch of St. Stephen,” a sixth-century symbolic gate.

Poetic and imagistic reflections upon witnessing and/or recalling the Men’s Rites of Passage in Illinois, August 2012. I made the Rites in 2008, but recently re-gathered with my brothers to reflect on four years of work, growth, and blessings, and to welcome others who were making the Rites for the first time.

Stones and Rejects

The stone that the builders rejected–
The stone that broke my ego mirror–
Has become the cornerstone
Of this inner temple.

No longer must I climb the mountain
To seek the truth or worship,
For the Mountain has come to me.
No longer must I ascend the Temple Mount,
Nor wail at that wall.
No longer must I seek elevation,
For it will be better
To plunge myself into
The deepwater lake
Left by Your great glacier
As it melted inside the upper chamber
Of my once broken heart.

I have let it all go.
My heart no longer
Needs to need.
It is free to want or not want,
To have
And to give it all away again,
To someone who needs it more,
Whose heart lake is drained.

I quiet myself,
Stop and listen.
All that I hear–
From the cicada
To the rustle of my brothers’ feet
In the dust around the bonfire–
Is the sound of resurrection
Happening again today.



I am a tough nut to crack.
What? Die again?!
What do I need to die to?
What is holding me back?

I watch the busy carpenter ants
Working on that half-dead tree,
And I see I am a lot like them.
I want to be busy,
Tearing down, building something new.
All the busy people are important, right?
Are they important because they are busy,
Or the other way around?

And does a busy man take the time to be curious–
Like these ants –or take serious risks,
Like crawling across my thigh right now?
Do they trust me to do them no harm,
or are they just stupid?
Am I ready to be as bold as them?
Do I need a team to work with,
Or should I be ready to go it alone
In this building project?

I am a carpenter with tools,
But only rotten wood to build with,
And just this tiny plot of land
(Between my shoulders)
Upon which to rebuild
Our new, rugged but lovely
makeshift moveable temple.

Uncle Pete sang “If I Had a Hammer“,
But my song is more like
“If I only had a plank”
(sung to the tune from Oz).
The foundation is solid.
The plans are drawn.
But where’s our team?
The hammer of justice
And song of freedom
Only make sense
when you’ve got
someone to share them with.

“We did the best we could with you, but you’re going to hell.”

– the most manipulative and evil parental/religious curse I’ve heard about so far (not from my parents… overheard from another participant)


Two Potential Band Names or Good Titles:
1) Bloody Mirror Shards
2) Permanent Drumroll


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