My dream: I am with a woman elder. She is teaching me about a clan of powerful men with special spiritual energy that have been with humanity throughout our history. There is not a lot of detail, more just visual images and a sense of who these men are, and what gifts they bring to humanity.
Then the dream shifts. I am waiting on a street corner on my island home for a man to pick me up and give me a ride. I intuitively know that he is part of this clan, a teacher and holder of this special energy. The car pulls up. He smiles and greets me. I get in the car and then the dream ends.
In my waking-world life, I know this man, and he is indeed of this special clan of men whose presence and deeds can open hearts, heal souls and change our world. He is a poet, teacher and Zen practitioner — a brilliant yet humble man, with gentle, penetrating eyes that seem to take in our world of beauty and sorrow with a deep love, wisdom and crinkle of humor.
There are such men among us. They are the poets, writers, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers in our midst who kneel in reverence before the miracle that is life, and give over their hearts and hands in service of the very best of our human society: love, compassion, justice and beauty.
Oddly, the good man isn’t our cultural ideal of the masculine. “Real men” emulate a rugged self-determinism founded on domination and personal gain. In the battle for supremacy, real men fight their way to the top of the pile, reaping the rewards of wealth, power and adulation, indifferent to the price others pay for their success. Our modern political, social and economic systems are founded on this masculine ideal of dominion, will to power, and unfettered self-interest and greed.
In the clamor of the crazy, crazy of real-man masculinity, played out in the constant bad news feed of war, environmental devastation, economic crisis and income disparity, the good men among us are mostly forgotten — until one of them steps out onto the public stage.
Shortly after my dream, Pope Francis made his first visit to the US. This too was a dream of the good man, written large in a Pope who serves food to the homeless, visits with prison inmates and promises justice to sexual abuse victims; a strong man, forthright in his words and actions, who emanates a startling, mesmerizing juxtaposition of power with humility, and asks us to consider the poor and disenfranchised, to be good stewards of the Earth, to practice love and tolerance with others, and to remember him in our prayers.
Such dreams — be they my nighttime dream of my poet neighbor or the collective waking dream of Pope Francis — shake us awake from our disquieted acquiescence to the real-man cultural ideal. We widen our gaze to the good men and their positive masculinity. We remember: that our hands and our hearts are made for service to ourselves, each other and our Earth home; that good deeds, founded in love, compassion, justice and beauty, are the true markers of the best of our humanity; and that these life-affirming choices and actions are not just the responsibility of the good men of our world, but of each and every one of us. Man and woman alike, the good man ideal exists within us all.
When I shared my dream with my poet neighbor who appeared as the good man in the dream, he replied, “Yes, there are such men without a doubt. I’m glad you know, Karen. That, in itself, is worth all the dreams.”
The Path of She is published on alternate Saturdays; follow it via RSS or e-mail! If you like Karen’s work, like her page on Facebook or maybe buy her book, Tale of the Lost Daughter, a fictional spiritual adventure into the life-changing world of magic and the sacred feminine.