Tonight I Give Thanks....
Tonight, as the last moments of the miraculous journey that was 2009 slip away, I give thanks to all the courageous, powerful and beautiful individuals and couples with whom it has been my honor to work throughout this past year, including: - the young couple, just 30 and 31, who are insisting on a deeper way of belonging to each other and the world, whose devotion to service has them literally standing on the front lines of battle zones gathering intimate stories and taking breathtaking photographs of families and individuals in an effort to educate the world on the catastrophe that is war. They came to me because they had stopped making love, despite being in love with each other and cherishing the act of sex. They had internalized so much of what they witnessed on a daily basis that when it came to the vulnerable act of making love they found themselves "falling apart" - most often, as soon as they had begun exchanging tenderness, she would start to cry. He reported a similar response; that as he would feel his defenses soften through intimacy he would find himself on the verge of tears or even rage. Yet his desire to take care of her would push him into a role of trying to make things better. Which of course, he can't. What arose immediately was the need for them to see their intimacy as a container and processor for both the on-going trauma and the deepening devotion they experience as a result of the lives they have chosen. Through a combination of learning the principles and form of contact improvisation, breath work, extended orgasm, sensory awareness/tracking and speaking during love making and orgasm, they discovered a realm in which each of them was able to integrate the extreme experiences and emotions they were storing in their bodies, that would release like all-consuming tidal waves before. Their love making is now such a breath taking act affirming the beauty of humanity I have no doubt the Holy is feasting on it.
- the powerful, financially successful man in his late 50's who has discovered that his intimacy up to this moment has been a result of his desire to perform according to external rules and expectations, guided by a deep primal need to protect himself from being "discovered". He claimed this truth about himself as he stood before me, tall and weeping with sorrow and longing for something different, yet having no idea what it might look like. He had never experienced authentic masculine intimacy. More than anything he longed to know what it felt like to feel close to another man, to feel a desire to be truly seen without feeling the fear of annihilation rushing up behind him. He states, "I thought my only task - the only thing I hadn't accomplished - was to be closer to my wife, to share something between us that we share with no one else. But I'm realizing that a lot of my personal life is actually fraudulent. How can I be close with my wife if I've spent a lifetime creating distance from myself? I can't get anywhere until I know what it feels like to be in relationship with my own gender, to actually have male friends for whom I would do anything, who know me through and through." It was this man who made me realize that I cannot see individual men in my private practice unless they are simultaneously in formal men's community. Of course that's true...Thank you.
- the 38 year old woman who is owning her power as a teacher, facilitator and visionary in her community while insisting on modeling a different kind of leadership; one that requires her to harness, and make transparent, her own vulnerability as an invitation for others to step into their greatness alongside her. She is stepping into this role despite the fact that we have very few, if any, role models for this type of leadership. And as she does, as she takes risk after risk to say "yes" to what is so obviously courting her, she is leaving behind so much of her former way of belonging to the world; an intimate relationship, patterns with family and old ways of seeing herself that have served to keep her safe and small.She is actively courting her own death, with faith alone to offer the parts of her that are determined to keep her right where she is. Over and over I marvel at our ability to accomplish the impossible with merely an immeasurable notion of faith as our fuel.
- the young man, 24, who found himself increasingly turning to pornography instead of attempting intimacy with women. He says "it's not that pornography is a substitute. I'm pretty sure it's not that the two are similar. It has something to do with the fact that it's 'virtual' that is the addiction for me. Everything in my life is virtual. There isn't a single thing I do in my day that has to do with my life. I don't grow my own food. I don't hunt my own meat. Most of the time I don't even remember that any of it came from anywhere or was grown by anyone. It's all removed. Pornography is like that. It's packaged, removed, virtual sex. And it's safe too. I don't mean that in a good way. I mean it doesn't require that I know anything about myself other than how to jack-off, which I think I was born knowing. And honestly I don't feel very noble when I'm just jacking-off. There is no edge. It's cowardly. It fits perfectly with our lives I think. I think our lives are cowardly. Everything, including how we kill people in other countries, is getting more and more virtual." The work this beautiful man is engaged in is the very definition of Re-Wilding. He is returning to the wisdom and awareness of his own body which requires that he turn away from so much of what he was taught, to rediscover the sensations and emotions (many times unpredictable and overwhelming) of being a young man in this world. Though men don't often use this vocabulary, I say he is learning how to make love to self. And I mean this quite literally - as part of our work has him discovering his own erotic map, staying present and stripping the shame associated with being witnessed in his own pleasure as a fully alive, sexually vital, male.
This is important work, made extraordinary by our capacity as humans to consistently long for life, despite the direction our humanity has taken in the last few millennia. I am moved to tears by the undying desire for purpose living within each of us - a creature longing to be witnessed and put to great use. May we each find our witness, as well as become witness for others. May we each listen to the longing that lives so vibrantly within us all and stop at nothing to offer this as our most precious gift to the world. And may 2010 be a year which sees the radical act of true community springing up across this country and across the world; radical community devoted to creating a world in which all life is sacred.