In 2010 we celebrated our 20th Annual Men’s Conference. In honor of that occasion, Hari Meyers, the Redwood Men’s Center Master Storyteller put together a retrospective of the first twenty years.
A History of the Redwood Men’s Center’s Conference-Gatherings
by Hari Meyers
Living on the Verge, Our Wounded World, Our Healing Selves was the name of our 13th conference.
At this time of great uncertainty — with our world poised ready to self-destruct or self-realize — the struggle for clarity, sanity, direction, and purpose is churning inside of us. Out of the chaos in front of us, a new world will coalesce.
Corresponding to our loosening and easing up in the matter of recruitment of participants, we also began to trust that the content of the conferences, the processes, the rituals, and the creation of sacred space could evolve more spontaneously from the needs of the attendees during the conference itself. Progressively, we let go more and more of the need to tightly choreograph every moment of the event.
We are on the verge — of terror, compassion, vengeance, reconciliation? Where is my edge, my entry, my place to take a stand?
We wanted to open to guidance, needed to live on the “verge” of our creativity itself. Believing that responding to the needs of the moment would be more profound overall than our struggling beforehand to plan out every detail, we were willing to let go of reliance on the structural template for the conference. For example, we no longer held to a tightly pre-planned design for the Saturday night grief ritual but trusted that the right form and process would present itself as needed.
We surrendered a step further and, although we considered the grief ritual as an important element and Saturday night still a good time for it to occur, we let go of any insistence that it had to occur unfailingly. We have had conferences in the last few years that have allowed the expression of grief to be more integrated throughout the weekend and not just reserved for that ritual in that place. We always have the template and lots of ideas and pre-thought-out possibilities to apply if needed, but we are much more willing to remain flexible and be innovative in the moment. It is possible that a Saturday night grief ritual might be called for again as new men enter our circle, bringing their own needs. We trust ourselves and our community more and more, and it seems more and more that what we call “spirit” trusts us.
Within the sense of personal helplessness, isolation, and pain lies each man’s medicine, authority and ability to act effectively in the world.