by Doug Wysockey-Johnson
Recently I finished two weekend retreats in a row. (Chicago and Marble Collegiate) Both were Men’s Retreats, using the Apostle Peter’s story as the Biblical conversation partner.
In many ways, Peter was a man’s man – fisherman, decisive leader, outspoken alpha male. He fits many of the stereotypes of what it means to be a man, from Jesus’ day to ours. But, the one called “The Rock” was also a fragile stone. His fears, betrayals and questions also sounded familiar to us in 2012. Here are a few retreat highlights:
- We had a session called “That Sinking Feeling,” based on Peter’s attempt to walk on water, where men anonymously wrote on cards a place where they felt they were sinking. They were so honest, talking about empty marriages, being fired from work, or struggling with pornography.
- A communion service where a 29 year old played a drum in the background as people came up two by two to be served. I was deeply moved--there was something so powerful about the rhythm and beat of the drum in that intimate ritual.
- Three days before the Chicago retreat, a registrant named Bob struck up a conversation with the driver of his cab on his way back from O’Hare. The cab driver had lost his previous job, his marriage, and his relationship with his children. Bob took a chance and asked the driver if he wanted to come to a Men’s retreat that weekend. The man came (with Bob paying his way). More than once I heard this man honestly sharing his brokenness with others in small groups.
- We had a session called “Who Are Your Gentiles?” based on Acts 10. Using Peter’s outreach to the Gentiles, we asked “Who is a stretch for you to love these days?” Men talked about members of their own family, but also some powerful reflections on race and nationality. It felt particularly poignant in these days following the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.