I want to tell you about a day that Peter, Pelle and I recently had at Venwoude, a Dutch retreat center. The three of us had met up to have our quarterly brotherhood touchdown and had already done a lot of deep, penetrating work by the time we made our way through thick, wet snow on the roads nourthbound for Venwoude.
Headed for Venwoude
Venwoude is a retreat center which has increased in my awareness over the last year. Peter and I dropped by in May out of the blue just to check out the place and I felt that I would be back. I have met two great men who are part of that community through this website. One of them, Leon Gras, contacted me after the entire story around the manifesto for conscious men and we had a brief exchange about why that was an important debate and that the approach taken in that manifesto didn't sufficiently honor levels of development.
He proceeded to invite us to drop in on a workshop called 'Sex, Spirit & Sexuality' with Diane Hamilton and Marc Gafni which was being held at the same that we would happen to gather in Holland. It was a generous offer and we accepted.
On the way to Venwoude on Saturday, I was again reminded of just how dull nature is in Holland. I find that a visit to Holland makes me grateful for living so close to "real" nature here in Norway. But in the woods around Venwoude, things change. I recognize how much nature means to me these days; just being amongst the trees leading up to Venwoude makes me breathe more easily. And there was a majestic bird that came swooping down on our car and I just let out a sigh. Thank heavens Holland hasn't been entirely domesticated.
Triggered by green
Venwoude is a beautiful place. And the hospitality we were shown was incredible. It was great to meet Leon. He was a magnificent host. We also got to meet Diane Hamilton, the zen master who holds such an important role in the integral movement. That was a nice experience – she seemed lovely, even though she did trigger me by saying that the three of us probably needed more Spiral Dynamics green in our lives than does she and Leon.
It was a strange comment, though it was interesting to sense how I reacted to it. Who knows, maybe it's proof that she's right. Why, after all, would I immediately interpret that as an insult? That is saying something about how I still view the people who are "green". Sorry new-agers, feminists and cultural relativists of the world – I will commit to loving you even more in 2011.
Feminine delight at the workshop
Diane Hamilton and Marc Gafni welcomed us into their workshop space with open arms and I felt really included and taken care of there. The lessons that we took part in were fun, especially an exercise where we shared vulnerably about sexuality based on a model of six stages of sexuality that Marc presented for us. We were four in our group, three men and one woman. It was refreshing to speak so openly about sexuality with these great people. I shared about how my ex didn't like it when I started fabricating a way of being in bed that felt inauthentic to her, even though my intention was to go deeper into my masculine to serve her.
The woman shared how much she liked feeling a man's cock get hard in her hand. She blushed a little as she said that and I just soaked up the delicious and fun energy that exuded from her. In closing the group afterwards, I told her how much I had enjoyed hearing her speak about how turned on she would get and she blushed big time and giggled. Just writing about this makes me smile and happy to be alive.
Initiation at Venwoude
Leon shared something with us which had us all excited – they have started initiating boys at Venwoude. Just in simple ways, but they are doing it. This is incredible. I was so happy to hear this. Leon is one of the ritual holders for that process and he should therefore know a thing or two about what is important in a boy's growth to manhood. Granted, their initiatory rites are still in their early stages, but the fact that this is happening on Western soil is very heartening. It was probably Leon's insight into the male psyche and a boy's path to manhood that had him resonate with me in my critique of the manifesto.
I'll be back
It's rare that I have felt so welcomed anywhere and in the car on the way back to Weert, I reflected to Peter and Pelle that I hadn't understood just how welcomed and served we had been there before after I had left. It was very humling and I felt my heart soften and open up afterwards.
I have a sense that some important connections were made there that will manifest in their full potential in the future. Thanks also, Venwoude, for offering me with some delightful meetings with beautiful women. They were brief, but delicious.