The Odyssey: “A man—track his tale for me, Muse, the twisty one who wandered widely, once he’d sacked Troy’s holy citadel; he saw the cities of many men and knew their minds, and suffered deeply in his soul upon the sea try as he might to protect his life and the day of his men’s return; but he could not save his men, although he longed to; for they perished through their wanton recklessness, fools who ate of the cattle of Hyperion, the Sun; and so they lost the day of their return. From some point or another, Daughter of Zeus, tell us the tale.
Now all the others—those who’d fled steep death— were home at last, safe from war and sea; but he alone, yearning for home and wife, was detained—by the Lady Calypso, most heavenly of goddesses, in her hollow caves: she longed to marry him. But then the time came in the course of the whirling years when the gods devised a way to bring him home to Ithaca; but even there he was hardly free of woe, even when he was back among his people. All the gods felt pity for him except Poseidon, who raged hotly against Odysseus, that godlike man, until he reached his homeland.”
This ancient proem (a preface or preamble to a book or speech) in Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ packs a lot of masculine journey markers into its narrative. If you slow down and contemplate the overview of the story of the man Odysseus, you start to grasp that there is way-wisdom for the man looking for help navigating the life journey he is traversing.
In an era when the reality of masculine distinctives is being ignored, neutered, redefined, edited and expunged by the cultural overlords, it’s critical to listen to the ‘dead who still speak’ (Hebrews 11:4).
One of my passions in life is engaging men to face their souls, their roles and relationships, their Gods and their philosophy and duties of life. One of the ways I do this is through stories.
“Zeus can present us times of joy and times of grief in turn: all lies within his power. So come, let’s sit back in the palace now, dine and warm our hearts with the old stories.” -The Odyssey, IV
These “Old stories” be they sacred or secular become the catalyst for our group discussions meant to provoke thoughtful dialogue and manageable action steps to move men’s lives towards greater meaning, mastery and maturity.
Last night we discussed the masculine markers within these opening paragraphs. Pulling on the literary threads of lines and ideas mentioned that resonate with men and give voice to the various seasons and challenges they face day to day.
Here’s an example of some of the topics we discussed:
–Wandering Wildly: how men often end up in places they never imagined and how this is often the way of manhood, even when you plan, set goals and aim for a certain port.
–The Cities and Thoughts of man: the value of the impact of the cities and philosophies of men.
–Suffering deeply in the soul: All of life is suffering in some degree.
-Men who perish through wanton recklessness.
–Being alone, even when like Odesseus, we are ‘back among our people’.
-Having a “home” that is our goal and facing the moments when all men will be “detained” or face opposing Poseidons who rage against us.
These are the type of conversations we have at ManClan Meet-ups. I hope and pray that such things might resonate with you and that you would join us or find or found your own men’s gatherings for evenings around Tables & Tales.