Search for the Sword

Though much is taken, much abides;

… that which we are, we are,

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Most of us received no sword from our fathers. Instead we inherited an awkward club, or an attitude, or a wound. So, we say “yes” when we mean “no.” We pound our point into the ground, and we abuse others with our foul dispositions.

All the while we wish for a sword sharp enough to amputate our dysfunction, to cut through the crap daily life can dish out, to sever the umbilical cords that bind us to people and places in our history. We want a sword that gleams in the darkness, that lights our way, that shines for those less fortunate or those too small or weak to stop the abuse they’re receiving. We must find this sword and remove the dust it has collected. Then we must learn when to wield it and when to sheath it.

Today I’ll search for this sword. When I find it, I’ll keep it close to my briefcase, my pocket, my soul.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Returning the Earth

“We have conquered the environment, and in our obsession for control, we no longer allow the environment to live in us.”

~ Valerie Andrews

Humankind has “tamed” the wilderness, bought and sold land for profit and loss. For too long we have mortgaged the earth and bankrupted its resources, pouring fumes into the skies and sludge into the oceans as if they were ours to destroy. Much more than rhetoric and legislation are needed to change this pattern of control and conquest over nature. I must begin a new inner relationship to my environment. Only then will the right action be clear to me.

I resolve to let the great trees live in me. I accept their strength and the wisdom of their years. I invite the land back into my legs and back and bones so that I might reclaim the rhythms of birth, death, and renewal. As I stand on the shore, I’ll feel the sea rushing into my gut. I’ll let my arms reach to embrace the painted sky. I’ll walk right through the mud! I’ll receive the meaning of those mountains at which I used to blankly stare, wondering who “owned” them. To be truly alive, I must relinquish my illusions. To truly survive, I must learn to receive the grace of this earth with gratitude, respect, and love.

Today I let go of the illusion of control, the dogma of dominion. I set my soul on automatic pilot, letting it soar through this world. Today I am touched and taught by the earth.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Retrieving Dreams

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

If we believe that our dream life is at least as important as our waking life, what wonders might occur. Intuition is as real and dependable as anything that can be scientifically observed. We know from experience that we become what we imagine. We don’t just burst forth as we are, full-blown, without a clue. We may not be able to prove or quantify this knowledge, but we do possess it.

Men can make dreaming, hunches, and musings important again if we try. After all, we were pretty good at it when we were children. We haven’t lost the ability to wonder; we’ve just let it get rusty. Daily, we used to dream ourselves into giants, kings, unheard-of creatures, magicians, rock stars, astronauts. We always intuitively knew where the treasure was buried and exactly what steps we had to take to retrieve it. We have this knowledge still, if we will use it.

Today I’ll take time to dream. I’ll sail into waters filled with pirates and piranhas – intellect, logic, and reason. I’ll retrieve my dreams and present them as a gift to myself in the waking world.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Learning Patience

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

~ Hal Borland

Men learned how to wait long ago. We waited on our parents to approve of us, to love us as we were, to stop drinking, or just to come home from work and give us their attention. Failing that, we waited until we could leave home. We’ve waited on promotions that never came. We’ve waited for answers to our discontent.

We wait, but not patiently. Patience remains a way of being that eludes most of us. Yet we need patience with our healing process, patience with our children. We want to be patient with a spouse who’s trying to recover, one day at a time. We need patience with people in general: the slow driver ahead of us, the person with too many items in the “express” checkout. For this kind of patience, we also need our sense of humor back. And most of all, we need to have patience with ourselves as we learn new ways of relating to and communicating with each other.

Patience is more than a virtue. It’s a necessity if we’re ever going to experience serenity that lasts longer than a few minutes.

Today I renew my effort to treat people I love, and even the people who are strangers to me, with patience and tolerance. I will let them move at their own pace, not mine.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Empowerment

The power of a man … is his present means to obtain some future apparent good.

~ Thomas Hobbes

Many of us have lived for power, often getting it at a very high cost to ourselves and the people we love. In such cases, we seldom feel empowered by our actions. Nor do we feel able to aid and empower others.

Now more and more of us are striving to discover a new way of being, one that allows us and our sons, daughters, lovers, and friends to feel energized and connected to our Source. We’re beginning to see that our play and our work are creative acts, not so different from each other. We feel a new love of life, a new conviction that even corporations, factories, offices, and shops can be run in a way that nurtures and supports us all.

Today is a day to explore my understanding of loving empowerment. I will cease vying for power with those around me. Instead I delight in finding and using that divine power inside myself. Today may everything I do and say be aligned with the true Source of all power.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

The False Self

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

As boys we learned that we had to find out who others wanted us to be. Then we were taught we had to become that person in order to get acceptance, appreciation, and love – things we should have gotten just for being ourselves.

We developed the habit of creating a “false self.” This Self became so convincing that at times even we believed it was real. Afraid to be who we really were, to feel what we felt, to say what we needed to say, and to do what we thought was right, we created a drama and playacted our way through our lives. Our performance, however, was sometimes a painful tragedy that the ones who really loved us could hardly bear to watch.

Now we’re ready to bring the play to its end, and let our authentic life begin. We’re discovering, ever so slowly, that there are people in the world who will embrace our true Self – as long as we’re willing to show it.

Today I give up the drama I created to survive. I trust that I don’t have to play two-bit parts, that I can be wholly who I am. When I live my life like this, absorbed in the truth, I hear the inner applause resounding.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Centering

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all tasks, and the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

As men we were often taught that the center of our universe is work, that we are only satellites orbiting our occupations. We were told that our country is the focal point of the world, and that we must defend her at all costs. With good intentions our dads showed us that we should focus on our families’ external needs: food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads.

Now we men are searching for our truest center – the spiritual focal point of our bodies and souls. From this newly discovered center we can still serve our jobs, our country, our families, but we’ll do so in ways that our fathers and grandfathers never dreamed possible.

Through time and recovery, we learn that it’s not a “selfish” act to become Self-worthy. By first giving our attention to what is essential in our own life, more will be accomplished, more will be healed, more will be helped, and less damage will be done.

Today I take a deep breath, and it carries me to the center of my being. It is that center I share with every man, a center of pure love, passion, truth, strength, gentleness, and beauty.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Youth and the Flying Boy

In the woods is perpetual youth.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Because our society is so youth-oriented, many men want to “stay young.” Compounding the problem is the fact that so many of us as boys were made to grow up too fast. It’s as though we lost our youth before we ever had it – becoming too responsible and too serious before our time. Yet many fifty- and sixty-year-old men still feel and act like boys regarding relationships, commitment, and direction in life. These men have a lot of Puer (Eternal Youth) in them. This is the “boy in the man’s body” syndrome, the Flying Boy.

Of course, there is a big difference between “perpetual” youth and “eternal” youth. The man who knows nature, who loves the ancient places, who often roams the woods and meadows stays perpetually young inside. This doesn’t mean he stops making decisions and commitments. Instead, he stays clear about his responsibilities because of the rejuvenating freedom he feels as he moves through the wide world.

Today I’ll honor the Flying Boy, the Puer. In this way, I can hold a fresh, youthful outlook, part of which is not caring whether or not I look young.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

 

Where is the Treasure?

If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having.

~ Henry Miller

As boys, many of us learned that having a lot of toys brought popularity. As teenagers, whoever had the first car was the center of attention. If we had more clothes, money, and athletic ability, we had more dates and others envied us. To this day, many of us still seek happiness in things – a better car, a gold credit card, a more spacious house – more, always more. Where is our satisfaction? Aren’t the things we have now the things we wanted a few years ago and worked so hard to achieve? Where is the contentment, the enjoyment we expected to feel?

There’s nothing wrong with possessions, of course. It’s great to feel gratitude for what we’ve received in our lives. But if we feel driven to get more, to accomplish more and more, maybe our desire is misplaced. What we really want most is not to be found outside us. Throughout the ages, the wise ones have said that the love we give and receive in this life is all we take with us when it’s over. Together we can focus on acquiring inner peace. Then by our example, we will leave our sons and daughters this great treasure, a wealth they can never lose.

Today I’ll look at how much time I spend getting, how much I spend giving, and how much I spend just being. I have the power to change the focus of my time and life to reflect the highest good.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Fire

The voice at the center speaks in tongues of flame … The child in man hears his fire rise.

~ M. C. Richards

The author of the quotation above, M. C. Richards, is a potter. Fire is at the center of her art, as it is at the center of much art – indeed, of life itself. The blaze captures our gaze. Love, like fire, can sear, is not always kind, can cut through the dead wood, demanding change. Solar fire lights each day; without it we would perish instantly. The sun rises brilliantly some mornings, giving us pleasure and another new day. The sources of fire are many: relationships, the sun, a forest burning wildly, and wherever friction exits. Fire is many things: strength, power, destruction, beauty.

Some people so fear fire that they never allow its flames to ignite them. They become passive, missing the activity inherent in fire. Others move too often into the fire and are frequently burned. Crafting the appropriate relationship to fire and to fiery people is key.

Today I will reflect on fire. I may light a fire in a fireplace, or make a fire on a beach, in my backyard, or elsewhere. As I watch the flames leap, I will think about how to kindle the fire in my heart.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul