Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where the focus is always on a single piece of gratitude to start the week off on a positive note, which for today is for going on the first of hopefully many future retreats with a small group of men from the ManKind Project (MKP) about a week ago now at Proud Lake State Park.

It’s probably best I at least qualify first what MKP is before I get into my specific gratitude from the retreat. MKP is a men’s organization that isn’t based upon any specific religion or spiritual understanding, whose main purpose is to help men heal from those deep-seated wounds that standard paths of healing don’t quite seem to help, wounds like my father’s suicide that only MKP in the end helped me to overcome.

Nevertheless, as part of my 20-year tie now to MKP, I continue to stay active in the organization by meeting bi-weekly with six other brothers, where our only sole purpose is to create deeper connections to each other, to become men of integrity in all areas of our lives, and to help each other continue to face and work through any of those deep-seated wounds and blockages that may still be within each of us. As part of our brotherhood, our group of men decided back in the Spring to begin embarking upon an annual retreat, solely for the purpose of helping us to grow closer to each other. It was decided that our first retreat would be scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day.

Now that it is over, I must say, I have much to be grateful for from the retreat, as I find myself reflecting upon it. For the two cooks, Les and Chris, who prepared all our delicious meals for the entire weekend, for the nature walks I took with Robb where I learned about everything from wild mushrooms to trees that can break a chainsaw, for the “Would You Rather”, “Rotten Apples”, and “Never Have I Ever” games we laughed so hard playing, for the constant outdoor fire that mesmerized us through its dancing flames throughout the entire time there, for my own reflective nature walks I took that lifted my spirits every time I went on them, for Kyle’s guitar playing and singing that always seemed to lull me into a sense of peace whenever it happened, for the deep work John did to overcome a very painful issue from his past, for Jeff being able to come for even a part of it in light of one of his family member’s passing during it, for the enjoyment that buying 8 eight large bags of every variety of M&M’s brought all of us, for the many beautiful wildlife creatures that kept on visiting us such as the brightly-colored dragonflies and caterpillars, for the communal meals we all had together where we dined as a family, for the lodge itself we stayed in that became like home for a few days, for the weather that felt perfect in every way, and for even feeling a whole lot of sadness when we finally had to say goodbye to each other to head home, I truly have a lot to be grateful for with our first annual retreat with my fellow MKP brothers.

I now have much to look forward to a year from now, when we embark upon our second retreat, but in the meantime, I’m just so very thankful and feeling blessed for my Higher Power bringing together such an eclectic bunch of guys during a weekend that most definitely touched my heart and everyone else’s there as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson