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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dances with Men

This month I attended the annual Men’s Gathering at Beautiful Shalom Mountain Retreat Center in Livingston Manor New York.

Before attending the gathering I noted a reluctance and skepticism in my attitude about the value of being there. After all, I did all the kind of things that goes on at Shalom back in the 80’s. For much of my life I have regarded this feeling of reluctance as a valid reason for avoidance.

But that was a long time ago and as Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher who was known for his doctrine of change reminds us that, "You cannot step twice in the same river." Indeed I am not the same man I was 25 years ago and Shalom is not the same river.

But, as the river is still a river, Shalom Mountain is still a place to go to practice loving others, be they men or women. Shalom Mountain is a place where I can go that will elucidate all the obstacles that I have created in my life that stops me from loving.

I know now that my mind will manufacture reasons for avoidance to cover up what is just simple fear. Some fears are of course natural and welcome warnings of real dangers. But others are reflections of a belief system that has long since stopped serving me, if it ever did. My job now has become to find the wisdom to tell the difference. But to do that, there must be a willingness to challenge the fear, to test its usefulness by transforming the fear into excitement and curiosity.

When I discover what is in my belief system that keeps me from loving the men in my life, both past and present, I will have discovered what lies at the root of many of the conflicts in my life and on the planet.

Shalom Mountain is a sacred place where all limiting beliefs are exposed for exactly what they are, limiting. A place where men and women alike are challenged to reinvent those belief systems to be empowering instaed of limiting, not through confrontation but through communion and the celebration of life.

It has been at least 20 years since I attended such a gathering as this. Now I know that back then, I really didn't get it. Maybe when I first stepped into that river more than 20 years ago I refused to allow myself to get wet. Dances with men brought me to a connection with the dance of life itself that stems from the sheer joy of dancing, dancing without sexuality, dancing without shame, dancing for no other purpose but to be in the joy of the dance. What a pleasure it was to return to all the people in my life with this gift, especially the women.

My thanks goes out to everyone at Shalom Mountain who made this gathering possible and all who attended. My gratitude wells up in me to fill the universe as a healing energy that brings us all closer together in the consciousness that we all are, and have always been, connected.


Blogger Marc Beneteau - said...

Hey Michael,
beautiful post. Yes the mind is a very deceitful thing - but so useful we really can't get rid of it, damn. Shalom mountain is a very, very special. It's a privilege to have met you there.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Ken Frank said...

Your words resonate inside me. What a gift to share the feelings captured in your words... to feel that I can love and dance with other men and feel the joy of being alive with them... even to feel my own sexuality among men without having to defend, pretend, or otherwise hesitate to feel the joy of my own self expression and existence. It is all a divine gift! Thanks for all your sharing, Michael!

2:05 PM  

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