by Ed Gurowitz
A few weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, my son Michael died just short of his 36th birthday. As you can imagine, this was devastating for my wife Emy and me. Nothing in life prepares you for the loss of a child – along with the grief that is there when you lose anyone close, there is the sense of injustice – children are supposed to bury their parents, not vice versa.
In the days and weeks that followed Michael’s death, I had occasion to attend several MKP gatherings – the Area Center Circle, the Better Man Conference, of which MKP was a sponsor and that many MKP brothers attended, an NWTA weekend and, of course my I-Group. With each of these gatherings, I had to decide whether I was up to attending and whether my attending would support my wife and family, etc. In every case, even though I chose to attend, I checked in with “I don’t want to be here,” and kept the possibility of leaving in my back pocket.
I’ve been writing the “The Soul of the Work” column since last September, but it was in these gatherings and in my interactions with countless MKP brothers that I came fully present to the soul of the work.
In every case I was immersed in love and support. No one tried to fix me, no one tried to make me feel better, no one was uncomfortable (that I could tell) with my grief and the work I needed to do to be with it. All of what I brought to these men was welcome. I got to touch the shadow that has me use anger, irritability, and generally being a negative pain in the ass to keep from feeling what I fear will overcome me and destroy me because I’m not strong enough to experience it without being destroyed.
It took men bringing every energy to me – the Lover that comforted me and held me while I cried, the Magician to see when I was covering up my pain, the Warrior, particularly the brother elder at the NWTA who gave me the gift of his anger and had me see that I was frenziedly doing to avoid being with my pain, and the King that so many men brought in blessing me and seeing me in my grief.
In my view that is the soul of the work – that everything a man brings is truly welcome and that we will interact with each other based on who we know the other man to be in all his gold and shadow rather than interacting with who he’s pretending to be at that moment or with the projections we are triggered to place on him.
MKP USA, my Area, my circles including my I-Group are all structures, and sometimes we get hung up on the structures, the rules, the protocols and the forms. Gautama Buddha said “all form is emptiness, all emptiness is form” – for me it’s like a wheel – without the emptiness at the hub, the wheel is useless form; without the spokes and the rim, the hub is useless space. Without the structure and circles of MKP, I might have found the healing that I found at the center of the structures, but frankly I don’t think so.
This is the soul of the work – true brotherhood.
Thank you, brothers