Greetings Sacred Path Community,
Our one-day Gathering of Men Event, held last month at Gindling Hilltop Camp, was attended by over 30 participants and a staff of 12. The program was intended to be an opportunity for “new men” to meet us and see who we are and to get a taste of what we do on Sacred Path Retreats. The program was designed to be efficient and effective, providing a “buffet” offering of some of the various elements that make up our typical four-day programs. The weather lent itself well to the day’s events while the ocean did its part in setting the stage for the production. Arturo’s masterful lasagna and marinara sauce (served to staff on Friday night) and Saturday's barbecued chicken and veggie burgers hit the mid-day spot.
Bill Arena kicked off the day by calling in the directions. Following my opening remarks, David “Strongbear” Myers teed up a story (Fire on the Mountain) with suggestions of how elements of our own personal stories may relate to the mytho-poetic one he was about to share. My hat is off to the Wisdom Council staff who worked selflessly to promote and create the event and then provided stellar leadership holding space for the Tribe meetings and Community time. And, our guest presenter, Guy Douglas, amazed us with his 90-minute Breathwork Soundbath process. The depth and breadth of the experience was the perfect capper to bring our event to its successful conclusion.
Our next Sacred Path Retreat commences on Thursday, October 20th, and concludes on Sunday, the 23rd. Even though this is technically our 29th Annual Fall Sacred Path Men’s Retreat (next spring would be our official 30th), I am relating to it as a celebration of 30 years – three decades of producing and providing Sacred Path Retreats to and for our community. Over the past 20 years our Spring retreats have been focused on our Call to Adventure Rites of Passage events for fathers and sons, and boys and mentors. The Fall retreats for the past 30 years have been devoted to hosting men. So it's apropos that we treat this upcoming retreat as a 30-year anniversary celebration of our mission to …
“Bring good men together and to bring out the best in them.”
After 30 years of being at the helm of the Men’s Center and Sacred Path I am feeling a very satisfying and fulfilling sense of accomplishment. What I know right now is that I will be at the October retreat. At the conclusion of that retreat I will be evaluating and then deciding what the future holds for me. It’s been a great run and throughout the years with all of the ups and downs and challenges that I and we have encountered along the way of producing the retreats, there has always been the unflinching preparation that follows for the next one, and then the next one.
I recall wondering after year 20, would there be a year 21 for MCLA/SP? But I found myself quite moved to continue after witnessing the expressed value of our events for the men of our community. Then again after year 25 I thought that a quarter century mark might just be the perfect milestone at which to “take a break.” Again, something moved within me that had me stay the course and continue engaging with the mission. Now we’re at the 30-year mark. Not wanting to sound like a talk show host whose time has come to finally say “goodnight folks” for the last time, I am considering that this upcoming October retreat might be a good time for me to take a sabbatical. Turning 70, and three decades of Sacred Path retreats, feels like a fitting benchmark to at least consider taking a breather.
I invite those of you who have consistently attended retreats over the years, as well as those who have not been with us recently, to be with us in October for a reunion and celebration of three decades of offering and producing quality “men’s work.” We are expecting to have a high turnout in October and may even need to turn away last minute applicants. So I strongly suggest that you reserve your space soon (our MCLA on-line reservation page is being updated right now: we'll send you a notice when RSVP's can be accepted). As has been our practice in the past, early enrollments will receive a discount as further motivation to act now. Whether we have another retreat in the future or not, this one will be a remarkable program providing accomplishments, acknowledgements and mindful enrichment for men of all ages.
Even though the “men’s movement” kicked off 30 years ago with a flurry and then waned over time, MCLA/SP has persevered with an unstoppable drive and commitment.
MCLA has remained one of a very few Men’s Centers across the country that is still in existence. And, by comparison to the larger programs, ours have been on a smaller and less frequent scale, in contrast to the Promise Keepers, Sterling Men's programs or the internationally based Mankind Project. But they have clearly been very impactful none-the-less. It’s with the joy of a proud Elder patriarch that I acknowledge each of you men who has served and participated in our programs over the years. May the Path continue to unfold as it is destined.
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
o - o - o - O - o - o - o
Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director
of the Men's Center Los Angeles. He is also the author of
"THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR,"
an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better
men . . . AND for the women who care about them.
Click here for additional info.