Being a man amongst men The men had been initiated. I stood, eye to eye, man to man with a "new brother". Then the drum sounded and I moved to the next man. The same vision. Eye to eye, man to man. Some of the new brothers had welled up and were crying. "This is awesome," I thought to myself…then I dropped the thought and returned to presence.
It was the closing ceremony of the March 2011 NWTA in the United Kingdom, and my first staffing with the global men’s organisation called The Mankind Project. I was honouring these men as new brothers at the end of their "New Warrior Adventure Weekend" (NWTA), otherwise called their initiation weekend.
For some of these initiates this might just have been the first time that they had ever felt truly honoured for all that they are by a group of fellow men. And as I did this, I realized that this was a life changing experience for me too. I was being entrusted, along with all the other 39 staff members, to honour and initiate fellow men for everything they are. And in doing so I feel I have received a transmission of masculine empowerment that will serve me, and the communities I engage in, for the rest of my life.
I understood why several brothers over the years since my own initiation weekend had told me that their experience of staffing the weekend was even more powerful than the original weekend itself. Being entrusted to initiate other men having attended nothing more than a single MKP NWTA weekend might make people question the strength and integrity that this "initiation" into manhood holds. However in this organisation I am struck by how fantastically well it works.
This is because the "container" is so strong. In order to staff we must commit to being truly of service, to honour our commitments we make when signing up, to respect and respond responsibly to any emotional charge we have with another staff member so that the flow of respectful heart-full communication remains open, and to hold ourselves accountable if we feel out of integrity for any reason, e.g. if we have not walked our talk.
As staff we must commit to taking full responsibility for our actions, both wholesome and unwholesome, and there are reflective processes readily available and encouraged when we step out of integrity. And what I love is that within this container are the most wonderful heart-warming honouring rituals. These allowed me to truly serve in the knowledge that this service was being valued by my fellow brothers.
As I serve in the world outside the MKP, this feeling of being supported is within me as a consequence of witnessing and being a part of these rituals. I know that things are not always easy for men and it feels damn good to know that I have support.
So, as I looked into these men’s eyes, my life was changing, my ground was forming. It is time for me to do my work, to live my joyful mission, to revel in this warm, heart-full and wonderful community, with joy and satisfaction that I have found my community of brothers.
Just before we stood eye to eye with these men, we staff were lined up and then invited to turn to the man beside us to talk for a minute about what "gold" we had received from the weekend. I was honoured to turn to one of the leaders of the weekend, and without knowing what was going to be spoken, in complete trust that my truth would be delivered, I spoke.
I heard myself speak of my strong sense that I had found a community which exemplifies so many qualities that I value in the world…integrity, service, responsibility, honouring, humour…I told this leader that I was feeling deeply satisfied, truly happy in knowing that I had finally found my community of brothers that I had silently longed for - for a very long time.
Francis E Francis is a healer, life-coach and 5 Rhythms teacher. You can read his blog at returntoinnocence.org.uk