A group of men met one weekend by a lake in Wisconsin. We gathered about a fire in the night and dared to dance and shout before each other. Each man revealed his wildest heart and deepest wounds in the fire’s soft light. It was beautiful, and each man felt he was less alone. One of the men who organized this gathering presented us a rose, fresh cut, blood red, to represent the beauty of the sacred space we felt, the space we had created with each other.
We kept this rose in a plain, brown box and discussed, each time we met, how we could preserve the rose in plastic, preserve the love we felt, keep it unchanged and perfect. Meanwhile the blood-red rose’s face was drained. It had become a dry remembrance of itself.
Last night, the rose was broken at our meeting. One of our brothers was suffering. While we were attending to him, we knocked the rose from its pedestal and watched its petals shatter as it hit the floor. There was a moment when we wondered if our group might shatter like the rose. It was our brother’s pain that brought us back, and we continued ministering to him.
It was then I realized I hated the rose, thought it ugly and lugubrious. Thought it like a corpse that some mad undertaker made up to look alive and fool the funeral guests. I liked the rose shattered! Shattered, it looked more beautiful! And we are broken men just like the rose. Each of us has kept a dried and useless image of ourselves to show to other men. And each of us has broken it among our brothers. Now, together we are beautiful.