Bonds of Brotherhood

For the past five years or so, I have met periodically (roughly quarterly) with a group of guys who desire to deepen their spiritual lives.  Their nucleus is the Rockhurst High School Class of 1990, though a few others, including a couple of Miege grads, got in.  Some of them have known each other since childhood, others met along the way in school, college, business, or social channels.  They know each other very well and can go pretty deep, awfully quickly.  They encourage each other as husbands, fathers, business leaders, and men of faith and integrity.

Though conversation is usually spattered with jokes, smiles, and laughter, they are unafraid to deal with difficult and serious topics.  Twentieth century Dutch priest, Henri Nouwen, once said, “When we honestly ask ourselves who, in our lives, mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds.  The one who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not fixing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, is a true friend.”  They are true friends to one another.

Like other groups of friends, they have a strong bond created by shared encounters and memories: stories from high school sports, college frats, ventures, trips, and experiences that connect them.  They also have abundant family history that anchors them in religious tradition and the culture of Kansas City’s Catholic community.  Their future was forged by their tie to the past.  Most of them readily admit that they have been immensely blessed and conditioned to be Men for Others; they do not take for granted the privileges they possess.  They embrace Jesus’ challenge that “To whom more has been given, more is expected.”  Like the Twelve Apostles, they grapple with faith and the message of Christ, knowing that they have a purpose in His mission.  They wrestle with Jesus’ commitment of sacrificial and unconditional love against our own sense of charitable and filial love.  They are incredibly generous and always looking for ways to help people in need, especially people of goodwill who suffer bad breaks.  God, wife, and family are at the center of their existence and every choice they make.

In our last session we did a spiritual exercise, associated with the late Stephen Covey, that contemplates the end of earthly life.  In it, we imagine our death and think about the people and things that are most important to us at that future unknown time; we write our obituary or eulogy and consider what might be said of us and our time here on earth when it is finished.  Covey is famous for his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, especially the first and most important: beginning with the end in mind.  In this exercise, we work our way back from burial to the present and determine what attitudes, actions, habits, or life patterns we wish to alter as we proceed there.  Reflecting upon what we want to leave behind and how we want to impact those we love, the obit becomes more than a listing of achievements and associations, the ceremony more than a walk-off song and reading of traditional passages, the eulogy more than a tribute; they are, instead, an appreciation of our creation, a deeper understanding of our purpose, a celebration of friendships and family, and a nod of gratitude for the privilege of making the world a little better by our contributions to it.

Privileged to get to hang out with these guys, I have helped form numerous other groups at the Farnan Spirituality Center (FSC).  Some have coalesced around particular topics or situations (divorce, grief, search for identity, forgiveness, stretching of the mind and heart, book club, discussion group, etc.); most are seeking a place in the church; all are seeking a stronger relationship with God, and all are grateful for the accompaniment of Christ on the journey of faith.  If you are interested in learning more about offerings, go to the FSC website at