Earlier this year, Montreat hosted its first Mantreat@Montreat. You probably heard about it. You might have even been interested in attending. But for the lucky souls that decided to try it, it was an event to remember.
Fifty guys traveled from across the country, coming from as far as Arkansas and Maryland. Our ages varied from the early twenties to into the eighties. We had a good mix of people: pastors, businessmen, fathers and sons, men’s groups, strangers, and long-time friends. I had expected a weekend of soaking the beauty of Montreat and while that was received, I got much more than I had anticipated.
An over-arching theme for the weekend was to “be present,” which was not what I came to this event expecting. I came prepared to disconnect from life, which was the exact opposite of what we were challenged to do. To be truly present meant that we were engaged, involved, and committed to the process happening around us. We spend so much of our lives connected that we often become disconnected from the things that are most important to us- our families, relationships, spirituality, and so many other things- that we lose our connections as we get caught up in the business of life.
Let me be the first to say that getting in touch with my emotions is nowhere near the top on my list of favorite things to do. In fact, I often spend a great deal of time finding reasons to avoid those types of activities. However, it didn’t take long for those emotions to find their way to the surface. In fact, as others around me began to share things in their lives, I found that the raw honesty of the group was refreshing. Our experience was led by Dan Davis, who invited us on a journey into the heart of manhood with skill and patience. He brought a team of men from various walks of life who kept us challenged both spiritually and emotionally. The leadership did a fantastic job at keeping us focused on our work and helping to make the most of our weekend. We were entertained by the musical and song-writing genius of Andy Gullahorn. His mix of humor and songs of personal faith and struggle really helped to solidify the experience. The worship for this type of experience was not what you traditionally expect. There was a lot of silence, contemplation, and thinking. We prayed together and went on silent walks. For me, it was a powerful experience.
But it wasn’t all about our feelings. We had fun class options like wood carving, drumming, hiking, primitive tool making, and even blacksmithing. We were able to learn new skills and get a little competitive. There was laughter, some tears, a good evening fire, and probably a little bloodshed (courtesy of the wood carving class). It seemed like everyone had a good time. I heard people saying that this was the best weekend that they had in a long time.
This weekend was full of triumphs. We were able to work through some painful things and reconnect with some more joyous things in our lives that can often get overshadowed by the troubles that we spend most of our time worrying about. We shared in small groups and listened to the words of our brothers. One of the most challenging things was to acknowledge that we could not “fix” the problems of the other people in our group. We were not to give advice or feedback while we were in small groups, just listen. This might have taught me more than anything else that weekend. This desire to “fix” things is something that I have been plagued with my entire life. I’m certain that I’m not alone.
I am thrilled to announce that we will be hosting Mantreat@Montreat again April 1-3, 2016! We will be tackling different topics and learning new skills. If you are seeking a weekend of fun, fellowship, and growth, I invite you to join us. You can come as an individual or bring a group.
To all of the men that experienced this with me, I thank you for helping to make the weekend meaningful and I hope that you were blessed by it.
Until then, be where your feet are, and I hope that you’ll join us at Mantreat@Montreat 2016.