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Mark came into my office for his first session looking road weary -and small wonder. He'd driven an hour by dark on the Los Angeles freeways after a full day's labor (a cabinet maker) to meet with me, hoping to find help for the past year's creeping despondency.

Removing his jacket, he wrestled with the throw pillows on my client sofa, looking for a position of comfort for his six foot burly frame. His face was nearly handsome, weather beaten, wind worn, eyes bright behind a dull exterior. Mark told me he was nearly sixty-three years old, divorced two years from a wife of nearly twenty-five years that he never really loved nor felt loved by. "Dying on the vine," he'd finally mustered the courage to end the torment by divorcing the relationship.

Except that the past three months, he was becoming increasingly depressed and worried that he was perhaps "beyond help": that the love he so yearned to experience, with a woman, a partner, "a soulmate," would never happen for him.

I was moved that Mark, unlike a majority of my male clientele -and most of my clients for the past fifteen years are males - was clearly relationship oriented, while also experiencing the usual frustration over lack of sexual fulfillment. As a woman, I am always drawn to the "sensitive"man, and doubly when he is also a manly man, which Mark is. I listened intently to his story of woe, and his description of himself as a possible lost cause. He had never been the "testosterone" type, he said, although his rugged looks are anything but wimpish. Hesitant lest he alienate me, Mark confessed that up in Oregon once, out in Nature, he "heard a tree singing": was he "weird?" Did I think he was really out of it?

Quite the contrary. I was touched deeply by Mark's confession, and later in the therapy session, used the fact of his deep connection to Living Things to help bring forth the day's healing that he - and I - had shown up for. For I too had knowledge of these things. And although I was assigned the role of faciltator, of healer, I knew Mark to be a kindred, equal, a "brother."

He offered himself up to me to work with him however I felt inclined. I was encouraged by his trust, his willingness to surrender. I knew the best work comes from here. Yet, as always, I had no idea what exactly we would do, what would be asked. My process as a helper is "organic," unfolding.

I had him climb up on my massage table, clothed, and I turned on a shamanic, undulatingly rhythmic CD. To the music, I proceeded to gentle him with a laying on of hands. As is often the case with male clients, I felt in Mark a deep deprivation of ordinary nurturing. The lack is like an ancient, ongoing wound. And all too often, that man assigns the task of filling that hole to the women in his life - usually his lover or mate. Typically, sadly, no woman, no nurture.

Mark was no exception. I touched his heart, and his jaw began to quiver. I stroked his brow, and the quiver became muffled sobs, which like most men, Mark, well trained in the ways of the culture, tried to suppress. Ashamed.

"Let it go, let it all go, just let your body do what it needs to do, trust this moment," I coaxed, moving to Mark's belly with a circular movement that brought an abrupt and all too brief display of tears.

"That's good, that's so good, how sweet those honest tears are," I said as Mark sniffled. "You honor me, yourself, all the brothers and sisters who are hurting, you help us heal with these tears."

I moved behind him, sitting, placing my hands over his heart, beginning a yogic breath my "guides" taught me some years back: breathing in deeply, audibly into his left ear, exhaling over his face, out audibly into his right ear. It is deeply lulling, trance-inducing, and I believe, balancing of the cerebral hemispheres. Mark took my hands in his, holding on tight, over his heart, and began to cry silent tears, - cry for all the unnameable hurts that he, as a man, as a person, a son, a father, a husband and a soul had born for a lifetime. Still the sounds of his cries lay inside, trying to be safe.

I held the emotional fort, embracing, witnessing, mothering, even as my sense of the Universal Divine Mother Goddess played through me, through us.

"Do you feel the little boy inside of you, Mark" I queried. He nodded, and going deeper, told of that little boy's loss of a father when he was only four, and a mother who neverseemed to want him. His jaw trembled mightily. Then he told me about himself as a young teen, shy and awkward with girls, no father -or mother- to guide him. And of his hopeless marriage.

I held the ground, the music carrying us deeper. I hummed along. Mark reached up to touch my throat: puzzling, but I kept on.

"Sing to me," whispered Mark, daring to ask as a child might. "My grandmother used to sing to me. She was the one who loved me," he shared. Off guard, I hesitated, then rose to the occasion, finding the words to an old Camp Fire Girls song that flowed out as a lullabye: "Peace, I ask of thee oh River...strength to lead and faith to follow....these are given unto me..."

A deep sigh welled up within my new client, his head now resting softly against my right arm. "I must pray, pray to my God," he muttered, from way inside. Sounds began to tumble outward as Mark began murmuring a beautiful prayer, in a language I could not identify, but totally understood. I joined him, improvising a chant, half Native American styled, half in English. Together we prayed in some primal, native tongue. Together we healed for all the brothers and sisters.

I ended our mystical session in a way I seldom feel free to do, and even rarer with a first timer. I gave him a "sound bath," chanting, toning, composing lullabyes, channeling hope, sounds cascading over his body in a rainbow of new possibilities for wholeness. His eyes still closed, Mark's hands rose of their own accord to a mysterious calling, slowly opening and closing as if sensing something. -Energy? I supposed so. Energy of life coming through his carpenter's hands. Large, worn, capable, craftsman's hands. Hands that felt healing even to me, as he held on tightly for the mothering he so sorely needed.

Mark called a few days after our session full of thanks and to tell me he was seriously considering learning massage: he couldn't stop recalling all that energy flowing through his hands during our session.

I am so grateful to Mark for his courage to open his heart and to share from such a vulnerable place. And to experience the tremendous power that being in such integrity releases. I am grateful for this work when it comes, and for the healing in my own life that men like Mark bring me. For I have spent many years fearing men, and healing from the hostile sexuality and the lack of nurturing that men in my past bore into me with. That several times left me abandoned to self-destructive, suicidal contemplations.

I am grateful that I have been given new eyes and ears to understand the ways of pain and shame, that give me ways to hold the ground, words to soothe and appease, and energy hands that can touch, train and help contain the fires of men's bodies until they become strong beacons of Light.

I share this story in hopes that more of you will trust women, trust each other, and that more women will become trustworthy. At Thanksgiving, I am grateful for these things.