JULY 4, 2017
Greetings Sacred Path Community,
On Saturday my wife, Fran, brother-in-law, Fred, one of our niece’s daughter, Ally, and I went to the Holocaust Museum. We had never been there before. You could spend hours touring it, but on average they recommend allowing 90 minutes to two hours. That makes sense due to the power of the experience. I plan to return and felt that two hour increments provide an ample opportunity to come to terms with the reality of what you’re taking in. It’s also virtually impossible to go through everything in one outing, so I found myself drawn to certain aspects that called to me. I will save other aspects for my next visit.
When you arrive you’re greeted by a security guard who thanks you for attending. There’s no charge for admission. He offers some initial information and then checks your bags. After donning a headset with small audio device we commenced the tour at our own pace, listening to recordings that can be dialed up to correspond with a myriad of different elements specific to the history of the persecution and extermination of over 6 million European Jews from the 1930’s to the mid 1940’s. You know the story but the starkness of this reality is so stunningly impactful that it leaves you feeling numb on the one hand and painfully sickened on the other.
At the end of my journey, as I was returning my headset, the woman behind the counter asked for my last name. I told her it was Johnson. And then I found myself offering that it had been changed from Jeroski when I was young, and it apparently had been shortened from Yarosheski. Frankly, I’m not sure of the spelling. She asked where my family was from and I said, “Poland on my Father’s side.” Then she asked if I had family members who were in the Holocaust. I paused and said, “Not that I’m aware of.” I then indicated that my Father’s side of the family was Catholic.
That prompted me to tell her that several years ago one of my clients, an older Jewish woman, once commented that she felt that I understood what she was saying because I was Jewish. I responded to her that I did feel that I understood but that I was not Jewish. She appeared confused and said, “you’re not!? And then asked where my family was originally from, and I said, “I was Scottish on my Mother’s side and Polish on my Father’s side and that he had been raised Catholic.” And then she smiled and said, “Oh there you go, you see, you never know.” In fact, I had learned along the way that some Jews converted or pretended to be Catholic to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. And then she blessed me with, “In any event darling (pronounced darlink) you have a Jewish Soul.” The woman behind the counter grinned and said, “With that pronunciation she must have been Hungarian.” Then she quipped, “She’s right, you never know.” I’m planning to take a deeper look into my lineage.
Before leaving we were invited to go out to the Children’s Memorial where we took a slip of paper with the picture and information about a child who was murdered at the brutal hands of the Nazis. I wrote a message on the back of it and rolled it carefully to insert into a small hole in the Memorial Wall. I chose a spot adding to the word LOVE in a message of HOPE that others who had preceded me had begun. Needless to say, I highly recommend this experience. You will be touched significantly and will leave with much to contemplate and consider.
In the spirit of our July 4th celebration of Independence or what I heard referred to the other day as “1776, the first Brexit,” we’re launching our 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat. You can be among the first to register early at a discounted rate and if you are a Veteran or a First Responder we’re offering an expanded discount in honor of your service to our country and community.
Last week I met with one of our men, Captain Mike Henry of the LA County Fire Department and CEO of Firefighters Down at the offices of the UCLA MEND organization, a volunteer group that provides medical and psychological services in support of wounded warriors suffering from PTSD. Mike will be with us on retreat and will be facilitating a breakout session along with retired Sheriff Clyde Terry of the LA County Sheriff’s Department. As always, I am looking forward to being with you on The Mountain in October from the 19th to the 22nd with a cast of remarkable men on the Journey to Mindful Manhood.
Thank you Bill Arena, our stalwart newsletter editor, for suggesting that we include an article on my Mother, Margie Stewart, who was the official World War II Poster Girl. Over 96 million posters to encourage the purchase of US War Bonds were created with her image on them. She was the first American woman allowed behind enemy lines to visit the GI’s in the hospital and then entertain the troops as a member of the Bond Cavalcade of Stars, including Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, the Marx Brothers and others. She was quite the moral booster. My Father, who was a Captain in the Army, was assigned to escort her. Love bloomed and they were married in Paris at the end of the war. I came along in 1946.
To you and yours, all of us at the Men’s Center and on The Sacred Path wish you a happy and healthy July 4th!
In the spirit of brotherhood,
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth.
Click here to visit www.DrStephenJohnson.com
Dr. Johnson is 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.
The MCLA Wisdom Council honored Dr. J's amazing 30 years of mindful men leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative film that debuted on the mountain at the recent 30th Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat. Click here to view "The Sacred Path."