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FullSizeRender-5Busy men always discover the elixir of a momentary break from the heavy responsibilities of their work.  Getting away into the country, the woods or the lake can do wonders to rejuvenate the male soul.  Hardworking men also learn that joining other men to find that relief is very effective.

It has been three years since I have been able to pal around with a special group of Michigan friends.  My life took a surprising turn when I was recruited to my present position of higher education.  The newness of the position and the long list of responsibilities were great so I stayed close to my job for two years.  Finally, it was time to reconnect with great guys.

Describing the men that I shared a few days of adventures on the plains, in the mountains and through the woods is simple.  They are a collection of different kinds of bucks.  A men’s retreat described like a herd of wild animals is saying that they are just a bunch of guys.

There are the young bucks who hurried into the cabin.  They are a lot of fun, full of energy, always moving, taking on new challenges no matter what the risks.  When it is time to eat they have a voracious appetite that defies the possible space of a normal human stomach.

FullSizeRender-6Then, there  are the seasoned bucks.  Their greying hair or loss of it identify them.  They move slower.  But, their deliberate speed is not to be confused with weakness.  There is an ancient Chinese proverb: “Age and treachery will always win over youth and inexperience.”

The dominant buck is the one who speaks and everyone stops to listen, both young and seasoned alike.  He gives direction, outlines the rules and cheers on the accomplishments of the recent activities.  While dominant he is the hardest working, doing whatever it takes to insure that all of the other bucks enjoy their time away from busy lives.

Then, there is the most favorite buck of all. All of the bucks know him. He gives fodder for years of stories to be retold and redacted.  He is the “little buck”.

From him comes the lesson for all men going to retreat with other men: Don’t make a mistake or the other bucks will never let you live it down.  It is all in good fun.  God has given each of us His amazing grace and the joy of being eternally forgiven so we in turn give that gift of forgiveness to our brothers from different mothers.

photo credit: brucefong friend photography

Our wives smile when we guys plan a trip with fellow guys.  They know that we are headed for manly adventures.  It’s a guy thing.

Our agenda is simple.  Essential things like food, fun and fellowship are about all we need.  We sorta talk about an agenda, but we are as flexible as the shifting wind.

We are polite with the newbies.  We are overtly interested in each other’s lives, what they do back at home and what they do for a living.  But, that doesn’t last long since we are all guys.

Soon the “stories” start.  That’s not really accurate.  These are not “stories” but exaggerations based on a slim slice of historic truth.  But, it is what guys do.

The more that you’re razzed you know that the guys love ya.  It’s in the man-code.  If you’re a man and never knew this then you need to read the fine print on the back of your man-card.

Please don’t ask your wife where yours is.  She won’t have a clue.  Furthermore, more than likely she won’t believe that there is such a thing.

But, the man-card credential is very real.  Every man is issued one. Look for it.

When the yarns began to spin, the new guests, especially the young ones, look bewildered.  Occasionally they look shocked.  But, soon they realize that this is manhood modeled for their benefit (ala Grand Torino with Clint Eastwood, one of my favorite theologians).

Guys eat a lot during a manly retreat.  We are doing that for sure.  The grub is first-class.

We play hard too.  Some of the guys have been on long hikes, exploring vistas, climbing rocky cliffs and traversing across ravines.  Others do four-wheelin’ up and down 18 degree inclines.

Manly stuff like marksmanship is enjoyed by guys.  Gun powder and challenges are in the man code.  Records are broken in the middle of denials and boasting.

Can you imagine hitting a target with a rifle that is only 6 inches in diameter at a distance of 300 yards?  Our guys consider that a novice shot.  A new record of 630 yards was established by Cowboy-Eagle-eye-Master-shooter Ron Wilson. 

The bragging rights are now his.  It is a record that has been verified and validated.  One hole in a target a long ways a way is a proud achievement.  Simple things please simple minds.  After all, we’re just guys.

photo credit: google image