Sons and Fathers

I’m reading a book on masculine spirituality by Richard Rohr that a mentor gave to me and it’s got me thinking a lot about what it means to be a man in todays world.  What are the lessons about the male experience that need to be learned?  What is really of real importance?  My observations have been that todays men hold maleness in our ability to be tough, to champ up, to keep fighting, and to maintain the battle.  Most men hold some value of success as a virtue to be esteemed, the question is what is success?  I think it’s been largely defined as material wealth, pecking order achievement, and life long hard work.  A man who looks back on a life of those things feels satisfaction and fulfillment, but is that all there is?

When it comes to the specific lessons fathers may instruct their sons about it usually has to do with being outwardly strong and enduring life’s challenges without much attention or thought surrounding spiritual or philosophical strength.  To me spiritual strength is not about doing more religion, but about inwardly and outwardly being attentive to the very nature of life.  That no matter how much a man does, says, earns, sows, endures, conquers, or accomplishes in his years, it will all go away; none of it was really of any value.  So spiritual strength is the masculine pursuit of what in life may carry true meaning.  What is the most important lesson a father can bestow onto his beloved son?  Spiritual masculinity, working hard at honestly exploring the complexities of being male here and now against the backdrop of life’s fleeting nature.  The awareness that the physical things in this life, though of value and necessity, are not the most urgent.  The pursuit of the deeper, the true, and divine reality are the most manly of hills to die on.  In the end all we are, even our very bodies will fade away – is there anything that lasts?   So many men have died without experiencing the riches of a masculine spirituality, and why?  Because of a haunting fear that they will lose what they have already conquered, the physical, temporal corner-offices and sports cars.  Ironically, they sought to hold onto things they could not keep, and in so doing, surrendered the very essence of eternity.  Their focus was limited, their perspective stunted.   If I should be so blessed as to be a father of a son.

There is a Devil here
Behind the eyes of your fear
Fighting to keep you in your place
So that you’ll never win this race

And it goes on and on
This Battles never won
Wounds will carry you
The songs of the fighting men

There is a victory
For all who choose to seek
What cannot be bought or sold
But is worth your very soul

You will reach your ends
And all your gods will fall
Just like your failing health
But they told you to soldier on

War will take your life
Days will disappear
Grace is all that’s left

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