FOR MT PINOS: THE HARD CLIMB UP THE MOUNTAIN
Reclaiming Our Sanctuary and the Seeds of our Community
When a veteran returns home with his soul frayed by war, or when a man survives prison or the meanest streets, his intense experiences make for an extra-ordinary transformation of his life. Such a transformation often comes as an “accidental initiation.” Yet, without the care of elders and mentors “accidental initiations” leave one incomplete, at best; and a few become more violent and destructive. True rites of passage can only be finished when a living community confirms the value of our wounds and welcomes us home.
For thousands of years, when men felt their souls unraveling, they went with other men into the natural world to find and restore a balance to their lives. In nature men can re-create balanced relationships with the primal elements– fire, water, earth and air. Men can renew acquaintances with other living beings. On mountaintops, beside lakes, and in the deep woods, men can gather to recognize and validate one another’s experience in the presence of elders, wild beings, and other men. With an exchange of stories, with ceremonies and rituals we can create our sanctuary. We can remember the veterans who served and fell. We can honor those who served and are still with us. We can address the grief and sorrows lodged in men’s hearts. We can re-weave the disparate strands of self and soul in the sanctuary of a living community. And we can plant seeds that allow this sanctuary and this created community to strengthen and spread its roots and branches into our homes and in the communities where we belong.