Questioning Is a Gift

Jim Neill Standard Leave a Comment

As part of the 20th Gathering of Men in NC, April 2015, the participants created a ritual space that had five stations as part of the Saturday night events.  As you progressed through the stations you  were asked to reflect on the story of Percival, as told by Tom Harris, and reflect on how you lived your personal story.

Bron Skinner, our TMC President, wrote and shared this poem after his Saturday night ritual journey.

That Question

Why did you ask that question?
I could have ignored just about any other,
But that one
so perfectly
touched the one spot in my soul
I could not ignore.
I knew it because of the tears
immediately welling within me.
A question mark is emblazoned
on my hand to remind me,
to force me,
to carry it with me on the journey.
“What advice would you,
in your current wisdom,
give to your 13-year old self?”

It was exactly
about that age that I decided.
that the world, and people, would never
touch or hurt me ever again.
I don’t even remember
what drove me there.
I only remember the loneliness
hiding in the dark night
huddled in a bamboo cluster
behind the incinerator
where no one could find me,
watching the patrol car drive by,
knowing they’d never find me;
then, finally, emerging, well protected
in a durable shell where I could
avoid the barbs of love and
the disappointments of longing
for human kindness.

I continue on this pretended quest,
with no immediate answer
for that question
about the advice.

The next question:
“Is this the quest you choose
for yourself?”
I know that one immediately:
But it is the quest that my life
chose for me.
I had no choice.
I had to follow the quest that
being my 13-year old self
defined for me,
the one it took more than
four decades to complete.
It was on that quest
that I clawed and scratched
and like a new born chick, pecked
my way from inside
that thick protective shell
to freedom,
little by little finding
the capacity to love
to be loved.

As I come to the last,
the final station of this feigned quest
I find the answer to the first question
in the last task:
“Provide the one word
that best describes your burden.”
It comes without hesitation:
“Over responsibility.”

And now I know the advice to give.
“You do not have to take care
of everything by yourself.
It is not all your responsibility.
You are not alone.
You can,
you should,
ask for help.”

April 18, 2015

Leave a Reply