An Awakening


Some “New Warriors” on their way to a Network meeting in Northern Minnesota. Phil “Bo” Bocanowski is the second man from the left.

“What the hell have I gotten myself into?  I’m going to have a serious talk with Bo when I find him.  What was he thinking, convincing me to sign up for this ‘Men’s weekend’?  I need to find a way out of here and quick.  This is a crazy place!”

These thoughts and a thousand others, many that I can’t share here were streaming through my head, at light speed, as I stood there amongst a group of men, men I didn’t know, in a large space within an abandoned nunnery located in southern Wisconsin near the Illinois border.  It was a Friday evening, August 3, 1990 and I had traveled from San Diego at the urging of my employer, Phil Bozanowski (Bo) because he thought the experience would be good for me.

“What was I thinking!!!”

I’d only been working for Bo a short time and I didn’t really know him.  All I knew was that he was a successful real estate developer, a bit eccentric and that he was very persuasive.  He had taken an interest in my life and me and he was certain that this “men’s retreat” was just what I needed.  On that Friday night twenty years ago I was scanning the faces of the men, the retreat staff, that surrounded myself and about twenty other suckers who had paid good money to participate in this “experience.”  I finally found Bo, who was on staff, standing next to a man that appeared to be the leader.  I was really angry and I wanted to lock eyes with Bo so that he knew how mad and disappointed I was with him, but he just stood there motionless, staring straight ahead as the “leader” began the process.

I was thinking, “Bo, you wait until I get the opportunity to confront you.  I’ll give you a piece of my mind!” Which was a crock considering that Bo would mop the floor with me if we had had a confrontation.  So I just stood there waiting for an opportunity to escape the madness when suddenly the “leader” called my name, “Oh no!”

That Friday night and the next two days proved to be one of the most significant experiences of my life, an experience that allowed me to become the man that God had always intended (To paraphrase Dallas Willard).  I’m not overstating the situation to say that that night I made a decision to save my life when I answered the call instead of running.

I was forty-two years old when I experienced the “New Warrior Training Adventure” in that old nunnery in Wisconsin and I didn’t know it at the time but my life was in shambles.  I was unaccountable, I was constantly afraid, I was shy, I was repressed emotionally and I didn’t really know what it was to be a man.  I took advantage of people to keep myself “safe” and I was failing as a husband, a father and as a businessman.  I was at the end of my rope and Bo recognized this and kept after me about this “experience” he had had that made such a profound difference in his life.

So as I stood there on that hot muggy Friday night and I heard my name called I made a choice, based on what little trust I had for Bo, to answer the call instead of running which would be my typical reaction.  I stepped up and allowed myself to be exposed to these men and to see through their eyes, through their hearts, through their courage what it really meant to be an authentic man, to be Bob Petersen.

Through that initial experience and all the subsequent experiences with the New Warrior Training Adventure I learned what it means to be accountable, to be responsible for my actions, that my actions have consequences that affect other people, especially people I love.  I learned how to live a life of integrity, honor and courage.  I became emotionally literate and most of all I discovered my true self and that I had a purpose here on earth.

Sitting here in a San Francisco hotel room on the twentieth anniversary of my initiation into manhood, I’m feeling connected with all the men and all the experience I’ve had over these past two decades.  And I’m especially thankful for the opportunity that Bo gave me, both professionally and spiritually. I’m often asked why I continue to donate my time and talents to help men find themselves.  My answer is that I’ll never be able to repay the debt of love and gratitude I owe for the opportunity I was given to save my life  on August 3, 1990.

Thank you Bo, my brother from another mother.  I hope and pray that you hear and feel my love and my gratitude.

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About rightthoughts
Husband/ Father/ Grandfather/ Architect

2 Responses to An Awakening

  1. joelaur says:

    I remember that lovely crew of men in the photo. We did some holy work together….

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