I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the initiation processes within men and women and where.when we experience this… or how. It seems to me that the very deep.wise, the very spiritual men and women, whether they be Christian or not, have all gone through significant pain in their lives.
I think it used to be that this was something that the elders of the community gave to the men as a community experience… women, not as much as they have the very biological experiences that move them through these transitions. We are now, especially in America, a number of generations removed from this community initiation experience. Fathers and elders no longer know how to walk the young men through this death experience and so we spend our early years trying to shield and protect ourselves and those close to us from feeling any pain or insecurities.
But, as a friend said last night, we will be initiated. If not by our community, by life itself. Whether you call it midlife crisis or the second Saturn Return, we must face the death, rock bottom, or forever be floundering as we wonder why the hell we are here and what our life amounts to. Some men walk through the flames by their own choosing, some because of life itself. It seems though that to be able to go through this experience in our 20s, and to have the right support to process it, will benefit us immensely in our later years.
The truly rich spiritual path or a well balanced position of leadership involves significant time spent in the desert… feeling the pain… not having the answers… eating dirt. Jesus went through it before he dove into his cosmos changing ministry. And his 40 days in the desert was followed up, by what? A public affirmation of his place with God and society. Baptism and the voice of God saying, “this is my son… with whom I am well pleased.” How old was he? 30… It fits.
The question I am left asking myself is how we bring this back into a community experience? How do we actively begin to walk men through this dying and rebirth experience so that we can begin making a more significant impact in our communities now?