These days we hear the word “broken” everywhere – broken hearts, broken promises, broken treaties, broken vows and broken rules. We know what it means to be breaking up, breaking down or breaking out. We lament that the political system, democracy itself, even the environment is broken beyond repair. In this wealthy nation many are too broke to afford a roof over their heads.
We ask each man, young, middle and older aged: How are you broken? How do you hide your brokenness? How has your brokenness helped you? How have you broken through?
Each generation is challenged to confront, perhaps facilitate, the breakdown of old systems that no longer serve, to find or create something new and more relevant. In doing so, we speak of breaking through; breaking the curse; breaking the spell; and breaking the silence.
There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen
Men are now called to acknowledge that “going it alone” no longer works and that our narratives of heroic isolation have led directly to our broken condition. Indigenous wisdom offers some comfort in realizing that we’ve been here before. Consider the Ojibwey chant:
Grandfathers, Grandmothers: look at our brokenness.
This is not only an urge to be seen but also a sign of our willingness, as Greg Kimura says, to:
Sit with the pain in your heart. Hold it there like a sacred wine in a golden cup.
Gregory Guss: LCSW, Psychotherapist and Community Organizer
Jay Jackson: mountain biker, solar guru, drummer, artist, father.
Conrad Larkin: LCSW, Psychotherapist for Elders and their families
Hari Meyers: Author, Teacher, Storyteller, and Literary-Mentor
Richard Naegle: Therapist, teacher, leader of the Noah Project
Gordon Pugh: Craftsman, Improv Artist and Life Coach
Barry Spector: Author of Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence
Welcoming and supportive of men of all ages, the Conference is very interactive and rich with dialogue. Personal stories are told; songs are sung; victories celebrated; grieving shared — all in a safe place full of honest talk and mutual respect. There is time to hear ancient tales, meet in small groups, engage in healing ritual, sing gloriously together, play together, converse over meals, and sit in the silence of the trees.
This conference is particularly helpful for any man wishing to move out of old patterns and wounds which have shaped his life and relationships. Younger as well as older men find safety and energizing freedom in connecting with other men on an emotional level. Men in transition or undergoing significant life-passages often find meaning, strength and comfort here. Many fathers bring their sons (15 and older) to have them welcomed into the community of men. And many men return each year for the ongoing celebration of brotherhood.
For close to thirty years of this Conference, we have been explorers of Soul. We have learned that to find and trust our way in this world we must tolerate uncertainties and fears; and we have found a way to do this together. In fact, the only way to do it is together. Some truths we have learned over the years are: