The 2007 MLA Alumni Gathering was so rich in soul and organic nutrients.
As men arrived from all corners some were pleasantly surprised, others just down right delighted at the prospect
of such luxuries as cabins! with heat! Beds with linens! Indoor plumbing! Hot tubs and air hockey! PING PONG!
Wow. All this in a cozy little brook side clearing called The Peaceful Valley Ranch.
Events kicked off with a meeting of the guides council. As has been the council custom for a
thousand years, when enough members were there it was begun, and the rest arrived as needed. An ocean jasper
listening stone watched over the proceedings and all matters were attended to in a good way.
As more alumni arrived they met, mingled and meandered about finding their rooms, old
friends, new friends and making their way to the greater metropolitan dining room area for the six o'clock hot
After dinner the first big circle. Gracing the men with her presence was one Mable, belle
of the MLA. It was good and fitting for her to be there so we could thank her in person for all of her hard work
that made the weekend and many other events able to happen as well attended to as they are in the important and
powerful preparation areas. Imagine how difficult it is to get yourself to do something sometimes, and multiply
that by the multitude that we are, and you get a glimpse of the task she confronts every work day for us. Again,
thank you Mable.
After her departing we invited in the helpers, and introductions were the order of the
evening. A small after council was convened as an adhoc to create a rough outline of an agenda for the weekend.
We were richly blessed by way of several elders who arrived in our circle fresh from the Elder Gathering and
elsewhere, without their presence we would have endured a great deficit. Spirit smiled lovingly, watching the
weary, heart warriors wrestle relentlessly with the invisible unknown
beast of what needed to happen. At 10:30, betwizzled, cross-eyed and mix minded, they retreated in faith,
and headed to bed, hot tub and hob-nobbery.
Saturday started early with sitting and stretching. After breakfast the big circle gathered
in confidence and set out for the next deepening. We broke into smaller circles and dropped further into
the unknown weekend. That dip offered us up some work to be done. And so it was. Hearts were broken, souls were
fortified and we continued. Michael and Tom offered up a question about confidentiality and let us hold it in the
light of its shadow, which in this case would be a prison where the beauty of what transpires cannot come out
and serve the community. Questions and comments on this and other topics will soon have a forum on the web-site,
but more on that soon enough.
And deeper we were drawn, and drawn we were this way and that, in color and in black and
white, in words and abstracts of life's delight.
After lunch, again we gathered. Full attendance at the sacred business council proffered
amazing results in needed feedback in areas of import such as apprenticeship, the passing of the baton in the
race to help ever more men see their own beauty, new programs, funding, staffing, outreach and more. Just a
Few of the prodigious results:
- Kimja humbly accepted the proud blessings of his elder Tom Daly to facilitate Spirit Camps.
- A well rooted tree henceforth named as an apprenticeship program received the water it needed to
flow into its growth.
- The mass media campaign is on,! Our internet capabilities are soon scheduled to enter
into the realm of interactivity.
- Easily 60% of those in attendance became acquainted with the possibility of
diving deeper into service to the organization.
We could see that some of the dreams of the founders have
become the visions of many who have feasted on the fruit of their labor. As is only appropriate, in the
incorporation of new programs and personnel, the line will be held by the founders and any they select to
help them to that end. And oh yes, the process of finding a new executive director has begun. And so the next
stage of growth begins, slowly and steadily, and in the shadow of a faint thin cloud of the possibility of a
founder's syndrome setting in. The shadow serves as a reminder for us to continue our descent aptly weighted
by the heartstone of such council which has guided the journey so well this far.
Later came ceremonial blessings for a new rites of passage program for boys being
offered by Harwood and Eamon, and a new program in the works from Todd which may or may not take a place
under the MLA umbrella.
A crowning piece to all these events was the ceremonial marking of Keith's transition
from his sovereign role as executive director. Words halt sharply. None seem to be sufficient to the task of
honoring this man in this role. It is clear that MLA would not be so ready for the changes now in motion
were it not for his deep desire and ability to serve, and his steady, consistent carrying out of the myriad
tasks at hand. Thank you Keith.
The evening rounded out with an impromptu dance party hosted by Tom and his big drum,
which he played with such passion that his beaters broke under the weight of his will to love men wildly at
the border and beyond.
The dawn brought tremendous beauty in bright and wild colors playing on the clouds
and cliffs and dancing in the trees. The circle, now starting to shrink in number, held true as closing
ceremonies; blessings on the young men, and a sweet soul vignette brought by Simon and Tom led to that next
beginning that would return us to the rest of our lives. The helpers were thanked and released, the circle
disengaged, and goodbyes, and some lunch, and goodbyes...
We acknowledge up front, that we all did our parts. And we wish to give special thanks
to Jeffrey, who in an attempt to step back, masterfully wove and grounded yet another passage into the fabric
of our lives, and Keith and Thomas, and I suspect, we ought include in that number quiet friend Michael
Herrick, who has stood as witness and much untold more as these three built their big canoe and paddled it
upstream to pick us up and take us for a ride. Blessed be all of us.