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

 

A Wordless Language

Nature is one of the languages God speaks.

~ Robert Bly

Many men have dabbled in, even mastered, languages. We speak fluent English, manage German “ein bischen,” use a peso’s worth of Spanish, murmur French when we feel amorous. We understand well the language of commerce, of industry. We’re plainspoken about stocks and bonds. We know “car talk.” We’re conversant in the colorful idioms of sports.

Every language has its proper place and time. And language is fun, even grandly mysterious at times. But for us to know and feel that point at which we and our God become one, we must speak the language of nature from time to time. We listen to God’s messages there, in the mountains, forests, lakes, and sky. The message is usually brief, and it’s delivered easily, right into the body and soul.

Today I’ll receive the wind’s whispers, the speech of the stream, the valley’s still, small voice. If I can be still amidst change as they are, I will become fluent in field, stone, tree, and fire.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Deep Respect

Our capacity for intimacy is built on deep respect, a presence that allows what is true to express itself, to be discovered.

~ Jack Kornfield

Respect can connect humans at the deepest level. Love that is based on respect – rather than need or longing – is more enduring. Such respect can tolerate great differences. Truth and commitment can emerge in the container of mutual respect.

Some things command our respect – perhaps because of their beauty or power. Respect for the ordinary, especially in intimate relationships, can sustain those connections. Express your respect. Say it. Show it in a gift or gesture, especially during difficult times. That which is accompanied with respect, even if it is difficult, will be better heard.

Today I will respect myself and all others whom I have contact with. I will communicate that respect by what I do and say.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Earth, the Great Teacher

Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee. ~ Job 12:8

So many men have been brainwashed into believing that the Earth is not alive, that it possesses no character, no feeling, and that it’s merely here to serve the insatiable demands of a greedy few. As we recover from this soul-shattering falsehood, a new depth of experience enters our life: we hear the Earth speak, groan, sign, and yes, bless us for listening to her cries.

The deeper I delve into the truth of my own body and soul, the deeper the teachings I receive from the Earth. That teaching is never stale, never inappropriate – each one of us will learn something different from the Earth, the first and last Mother and Father to us all.

Today I’ll listen to the truth the Earth has to teach.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

A Quiet Strength

“A thoughtful book like this encourages contemplation, rather than hyperactivity, and, oddly, we need good words in order to find fruitful silence.” 

~ Thomas Moore – Care of the Soul

Who will mentor, teach, and touch the souls of the boys who have been bullied, bloodied and beaten literally or figuratively?

Each day from now until the 11th Annual Creative Change Conference, “It Happens to Boys,” I’ll be providing a daily meditation excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul for the boys inside all men and for the man-father to the boy, and for women who love their sons, husbands, lovers, and fathers.

I hope you will join me for this important conference to be held on Oct. 4, 2019 at the ABC Recovery Center located at 44359 Palm Street in Indio, California.

Making Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Many men are uncomfortable with peace, though we may like the idea. We’ve been programmed since childhood to prepare for war, prepare to kill or be killed. We played army at five years old, imagining sticks into sub-machine guns, dirt clods into grenades, pretending to sneak up on the enemy to destroy them. Later on, some of us went on to wage wars on battlefields known as gridirons. If we didn’t engage in combat there, then we did with fellow classmates, particularly the ones who tried to wrestle away our girlfriends. We carried our propensity for battle into bedrooms and corporate boardrooms, believing our manhood would be won or lost there.

Without a war to fight, we rested only to prepare for the next great conflict, the next chance to “prove our strength.” We came to associate peace with boredom.

I want to teach my children that peace is greater than pistols, quiet and contentment more necessary than counterattack.

Today I’ll make peace with an old friend or relative I’ve hurt, a child I wounded with words. If nothing else, I’ll declare a cease-fire with myself. I’ll refuse to shame myself for learning what I was taught.