Putting Out Into the Deep

The interior of the sweat lodge was pitch black, hot, and humid. The air, a combination of sweat spiced with the scent of the black soil of an Ontario forest, was difficult to breath. Sitting cross-legged, I lowered myself toward the wet earthen floor of the lodge to breath whatever cool air I might find there. On my right and on my left, I felt the wet naked boney knees of the men sitting beside me. In the utter darkness, a native man from Montreal called out “Heal me, Great Spirit. Take my pain from me.”

A worthy petition indeed, for no man wants to suffer without end, but most often God does not remove our suffering immediately – though he could – because, most often, it is only in suffering that we are bowed down enough to continue seeking him.  In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, in the days and weeks following the world-wide trauma of the terrorist attacks, church attendance in the United States soared. But, once the feelings of shock and horror subsided, those post-traumatic church goers stopped showing up, and things returned to normal.

The Apostle Paul realized this spiritual truth when he asked God three times to remove his ‘thorn in the flesh.’ “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

It is more often the case that God allows us to work through our suffering, working through those wounds that confound us and limit our enjoyment of life. Without trespassing our free will, he lets us stumble along, often falling into repeated sins, until we turn to him for help. In prayer, in sharing with a trusted companion, counsellor, therapist, priest or pastor, or in a circle of men, we can unfold the layers of our hearts, to find the truth that our wounds come from the trespasses of love. And, since “God is love…” (1 John 4:16b) the most important lesson of all is that we cannot find true healing in anything, created or dreamed of in our heads, that is not of love – of God.

This is a painful and difficult lesson to learn and is one of the reasons why men in small groups can talk about their wounds (to the frustration of group members and therapists) ad nauseum, for weeks, months, and years, never really finding peace.

It is also the case, that a man who does not grow through his pain does not have an understanding of his deeper wounds. He bounces along on the surface of his suffering, refusing to enter the deep water of his heart and soul where the true source of his pain is to be found. As Christ called to Peter in Luke 5:4: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” As in fishing, so in the masculine journey: if a man never goes into the deep, he never catches anything, not God, nor his healing.

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , | Posted on May 24, 2019

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