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I arrive at the healing lands of the Blue Deer, nestled in a valley of the Catskill Mountains, next to the sacred waters of the River that sings her song to all who stop and listen. I am grateful to have beaten the snows that are on their way. I am happy to be here and anxiously waiting to meet the rest of the men. My spirits have lifted, but my heart is still heavy from challenges I am facing at home, in my relationship.

Although it is my third time attending Ukilái: An Annual Gathering of Men, I am taken aback by the power and connection of gathering and doing the work of men at the time of Winter. There is some special alchemy of learning and bonding that my soul craves as a man and as an individual that is nourished by our time together. I appreciate what we have received through the guidance of our leader and elder, David Wiley.

On the final day, I drive eastward to my home, drinking in the beauty of the lands and a wonderful sunset. I walk through the door at home just after dark, finally able to reach across to my partner and express myself in a way that has been missing for very a long time!

— Shawn Bennett
Norwich, Connecticut (USA)
February 28, 2019