"Some say that the man's task in the first half of his life is to become bonded to matter: to learn a craft, become friends with wood, earth, wind, or fire." - Robert Bly
We spoke to the young men this week about work.
They have been working for a few weeks now, laborious, and hard, and long hour construction jobs. It is not easy. Nor are they hours they have to wake up for, to get there on time. It is hot. There is plenty of hardship.
And they are really impressing us. They want it. They want initiation. To feel hardship. and pain. One young man said he would have never had this experience outside of this place. To be around other men, blue collar, who are far from his world. He grew up on a golf course, and caddy'ing. Went into the financial services out of college. But he missed something.
There is this mysterious thing, Christ calls us to, in descending. "Until you become the least." "You must become like these little children" "The first will become last, the last will become first." "Picking up our cross" There are all these places we must go, often down, to understand how to move up.
The descent. The humilitation. "The way down and out"
Robert Bly writes, "For young men who have graduated from privilieged colleges, or who have been lifted upward by the expensive entitlement culture, their soul life often begins with this basement work in the kitchen."
We must start at the bottom, and work our way up. Its a sign of maturing, of process, of growth. And yet, we rarely go that route. I struggle so much in that. I want to move ahead, pass around the hardship, the sweat. Ascend into glory, beauty, and success. And yet, its through. Through the pain, the sweat. The adversity. It's how God makes us men.
But we don't want to go there. The curse on Adam, is you will work by the sweat of thy brow. There is something connected there to earth. To physical labor. To futility. The curse is God's way of pushing us into hardship and suffering. In order... to find Him. To understand the Cross. The sufferings of Christ, to take up our cross, our sufferings, and belong to him.
I think its why a young man needs to be bonded to matter, in craft, or through wood, earth, wind, or fire. There is something about the natural world, we need to find out about. What we have inside of us. To feel pain, to feel our bodies, and use them. To experience the glorious parts of the curse, and the obvious hard things.
But we move on. To the risen Lord. The resurrection. Its a beautiful thing. But getting there, is through. Not around, as Cory Smith expains. As men, we must learn how to navigate into those places. And maybe be pushed there. I know I needed, and still need that. I dont want to. I need to be nudged in that direction.
Remember the disciples a few days before Jesus heading to the cross. Quarelling amonst themselves about who will sit at the right hand of God. They wanted power and position. Not all that bad. Some of it being good. But Jesus said, the way up, is first down. the least.
One of the young men heard from his father the other day, and after explaining his job, working for a day labor company, and how hard it has been, his father shed some tears. I can't interpret all that happened, but there is something in a man, that knows we must go through those places, in order to rise up, and be men. Our fathers often tried to get us to work hard, put in the hours, work a hard summer job, but so often the response was why? And when you are young, its pretty hard to convince us otherwise. Not to mention the entitlement culture that says, you dont have to go down. there are ways around. you can move up. you can pass that road.
It is my deep hope that somehow we are able to help in those places, even that many of these fathers have encouraged their sons in. My father was that way. work hard. spend a summer feeling real hard work. but did I want to do that? why Dad? Do I have to? It seems so easy to go a different route. I had to learn the hard way. I guess, so many of us do.
these young men are choosing that path. and I feel so honored to be with them. and watch them learn from these discoveries. and the stories that come from their work. they are entering the futility of the curse, and they are being blessed by it, becoming men.