Recently at the conclusion of a Sunday morning service in our church I closed the service with prayer. I had a picture of people standing by a door, wondering if they should cross the threshold. Thresholds can be important markers, helping us interpret our progress on the spiritual journey. John O’Donohue asks, “At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? …… A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres?” There comes a time in a man’s journey, when He must face to need to embrace the feminine compliment of his masculine soul – intuition, feeling, meaning and response.
In a poem entitled “At the Threshold of manhood,” O’Donohue challenges men to “receive your manhood with grace and mindful ease.” “May you awaken confidently to the feminine within you, and learn to integrate the beauty of intuition and feeling so that your sensitivity kindles and your heart is trusted. That you may slowly grow to trust the silence of the masculine as the home of your stillness.” He ends with, “Beyond your work and action, remain faithful to your heart, for you to deepen and grow into a man of dignity and nobility.” These words speak to the need for men to embrace their tender side. Remember a wild man is both tough and tender.
Recently I read about Warrior Week, a boot camp for men, who participated in, ” a regimen of physical torture and mental preparation that involves being punched in the face, hiking while holding logs, and reciting the poem ‘Invictus.” This in not the kind of threshold experience most men need to become a better men. It only reinforces the “Rambo” image, the tough side of the masculine. But it can be appealing when men feel emasculated, being told, for example, after the recent London terror attack, “more sorrow and grief at the hands of madmen in London. Men and religion are worthless.”
I worry about two responses from men: The passive depressed state of a soft male or the angry mucho man. This blog is committed to helping men not only know the true masculine, but the balance of the complimentary feminine. Each man will have a unique integration of both. Richard Rohr has observed that men are easily identified because they live in the control tower of their minds. My burden is in helping men cross over the threshold so as to embrace the feminine. Men are reluctant to do so because it means surrendering control and not being about to rationally understand.
The poem challenges us to “slowing grow to trust the silence of the masculine as the home of your stillness.” Beneath our hurried, insecure masculine consciousness, which tries so hard to make sense of true maleness in our present culture, there is a deeper self, the mystery of Christ hidden within us (Col 1:27). We are challenged by O’Donohue to, “remain faithful to your heart, for you to deepen and grow into a man of dignity and nobility.”
Being faithful to our hearts, becomes a matter of listening and being attentive to how the Lord desires to form us. We learn to move beyond the circumference of life to the center. We have few male mentors who point us to the center. Men, don’t let either the radical feminist or the angry male voice determine the contours of our soul. Find wholeness with Jesus, in quietness and rest (Is. 30:15). Let Jesus form you are as a man.