The Bucketmen
Birthing an ACIM Men's Movement
Part I of II

by Paul Marinkovich*


A beautiful woman or the sight of teams crashing together to move a pigskin a few yards towards a goal line might gain a man’s attention, but a man’s soul is intrigued by ancient and mystic stories.  The sound of a distant drumbeat beckons us together into a circle as an ancient storyteller’s voice breaks the silence of a cold dark night. His voice is deep and the story sings through the night in perfect cadence with the pounding of his bare hands against the well-worn Djembe drum.  In this circle we are all right here, in the now, fully present and wholly alive in this very moment.


In one of our early Miracle Cell Men’s Team meetings we were looking at a popular fable studied by past men’s movements called “Iron John.” This is a German fairy tale written by the Grimm Brothers in 1812 and was retold by Robert Bly in 1990 along with his analysis. It was through working with this story with an ACIM vision that the clouds started to part for us and the light shone through.  The Holy Spirit created a space and worked through us to create our own version of a “Miracle Cell Fairytale.” This seemed to be a guided vision that provided a means for the transition we were seeking and providing us a clear context as a men’s team.

Such is a proper way to start an article about men and a men’s movement, with a story, our story. 


Our ego has created a dark and mystical swamp deep within the forest of our souls that is rarely visited. We have heard all of the fearful stories told about the dangers of approaching such a place. But it is this place where the ego tries to hide our brilliance, our courage, and our light and we are drawn to it knowing that there must be something more. Love has been hidden deep beneath and the mucky waters filter out the brilliant beams of our light trying to shine forth. This swamp is our ego's attempt to separate us from God and although it is but an illusion, it has appeared to us to be a very effective means for separation.

At this point in our lives we have made the decision to drain our swamps and clear the darkness covering the light hidden below so we grab a bucket and venture into the darkness of our forest to find it. When we reach the water's edge we see the vastness of the ego's illusion and we feel frustrated. The swamp is even bigger than the last time we visited and its limitless volume brings forth a feeling of fear and a perception that this is an impossible task.

We have bailed at this swamp before only to just eventually give up. Perhaps it was the fear that the eventual darkness brought with the haunting howls from the shadow figures from our past. Perhaps it was the weariness of bailing the water alone, or even the isolation we felt trying to undertake such a seemingly impossible task by ourselves. But whatever it was, the swamp remained covering what we were so desperately seeking. Eventually days turned into years and years turned into decades but the swamp remained.

As time passes we find ourselves once again bailing and discover that with age we are growing weary even sooner and becoming even more frustrated with our lack of progress. Surely it will take a thousand years of bailing with this bucket to reach what we seek. For a moment the muck separates and in the brief clearness of the water we see a reflection of our face looking back at us. We see a tired and scared man looking into our own soul and we experience a deep fear. We feel so very alone here with this bucket in our hands. We put our head down in defeat and we start back to the shallow little world that our ego has created for us.

As we retreat from our quest we hear a splashing and the sounds of a man crying out in frustration. As we investigate we see another man with a bucket kneeled before another swamp with scares on his palms from his bailing of the swamp before him. At invitation, he joins us in our retreat from the forest when we come upon another man, and another, and another. We are tired and weary and we band together. We are the "Bucketmen."

We circle up as we sit on our buckets and share with each other our truth and the stories of our lives. The night has fallen upon us so we light a fire in the middle of our circle to remind us of the light in each of us fueled by the dead wood of our past which is scattered throughout the forest. This is our flame born of our collective life experiences. In the flame we witness all the fear and loveless actions of our past burned to ash only leaving the love we gave and love we received to blaze a brilliant light before us.

To honor this process we each take turns giving to the flame our worries, our concerns, our sadness, and our sorrows. We express the feelings of our failures and where we didn't get it right. We let go of our past loveless actions and the loveless actions we experienced from others. We weep together and reach out to each other as a father to a son. We feel support.

We then look into the flame and take from it the brilliant light and warmth as we describe all the expressions of love that we have given and received. The shadows of the light dance across the face of every man and the once dirty scorned faces suddenly come alive with heartfelt smiles as we celebrate our remembrance of who we are as brothers. We are experiencing real life in the moment and we are drawing strength through joining together. The flame grows brighter and suddenly the night sky seems almost a brilliant white.

We look around and see other men with buckets who have been attracted by the light and we welcome them to join our circle. We look around and suddenly there are thousands of "Bucketmen" in a massive circle. The night is alive with dancing, singing, and men without cares celebrating together in a primitive and ancient way. This night the dark and scary forest has suddenly transformed into a place of healing, of light, of celebration, of connection, and of limitlessness love.

As the morning light breaks we gather and meet at one of our swamps. Thousands of men with buckets start bailing the swamp and it quickly is drained.  At the bottom we now can see a large hairy man lying there. We pull him out and gather around. He is covered with mud, silt, and hair. He looks to have been down there for a very long time. He looks ancient. We clean him with the tears we have cried for that is the only pure water available to us. We embrace him and we dance around him celebrating his liberation. As the dirt is washed away an aura of brilliance radiates from Him like great rays of light. We realize that through His liberation and remembering who we are that a miraculous space has been created that is only filled with love and nothing else.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not yet here. There is only this moment and all the fear and despair we held for so very long has folded back in the nothingness from which it came. We have arrived. We are finally home. This is the real world we have been seeking.

We can't get to where we are going without our "Bucketmen." We thank God for men with buckets. We thank God for the men of our Miracle Cell and the ones who will join us. We thank each man for helping us bucket. Together as brothers we will bucket out the swamps of this world and become better fathers, sons, brothers, lovers, teachers, and men. When the going gets tough we simply say "Bucket."

Why Start an ACIM Men’s Team?

After studying ACIM for a while in study groups, ...


After studying ACIM for a while in study groups, being involved in the CMC Ministry program, and attending numerous lectures, I was starting to feel that something was missing.  I often attend Marianne Williamson lectures on Monday nights in Beverly Hills and once I heard her answer a question regarding what is the best way to study the course.  She simply said: “take the course personally and personalize it into every aspect of your life.”   That made perfect sense to me and I realized that my next step was to find a way to personalize the course into the life of this 52 year old male. Debating theory and doctrine on blogs and competing for the position of being right wasn’t advancing my spiritual growth in a way that I felt productive. 

Nice talk about rainbows, ponies, and lollypops also wasn’t cutting it. Not for me.  That wasn’t the world I was seeing and I couldn’t relate to it.  I felt the need to sink down and roll in my past ashes a while in order to understand my barriers to love. No amount of sprinkled glitter could turn those ashes into a rainbow.  I had to go there but was fearful of going alone.  I think as men we have to go down and face the darkness in order to symbolically realize our shadowy dark past that we get stuck in.  It can often be a fearful journey and I feel if we can take that journey with others who can help mentor us along the way, we can often bring that darkness to the light in order to dispel it much more quickly.  Life can only taste sweet after we confront our ashes.  Ashes are our barriers. Ashes are our blocks to love. 

I have participated and led men’s groups in the past before my involvement in ACIM.  I now realize the shortcoming was that we never had a spiritual element involved.  There was one seat that was always left empty, the Holy Spirit’s seat.  This left an important void as far as a purpose and a direction.   What worked in these groups was the common vision and commitment of a team of men who met on a regular basis and helped support each other in our life’s journey. We were each other’s mentors.  

Of course we didn’t know it then, but I now realize that the Holy Spirit was working through us at times when we were able to break down our emotional barriers and really love the man we were helping in the moment.  Unfortunately, we just attributed those miracles as our own feats of brilliance which fed our hungry egos and eventually toppled the good work we did with bitter infighting like scavenger dogs fighting over a bone. 

Sometimes the branch in the road that constitutes purpose and meaningful change is so small that it is easy to miss. Often it is so unfamiliar that it becomes a fearful step that only a soul with courage could be willing to take.  Like Marianne Williamson often says, “a nervous breakdown can be a highly effective means of spiritual transformation.”  The ego hates personal tragedies because they tend to have us look upward and inward for assistance because after all of our worldly tricks and magic have been exhausted, we are left with nowhere else to turn but God.   

The ego instead favors a series of small cumulative setbacks so that self-denial can better take root.  Many men walk through life today as adult boys without having dealt with their own individual ashes.  For me, it wasn’t until life dropped me to my knees that I was able to finally deal with mine and ask God for help.  It was only then I was able to see the light of hope up ahead.

Now years further in my spiritual walk, I was finally open to hear a message that came to me of a new type of men’s team.  I shared the vision with my ACIM Ministry lesson partners Seth and Daniel and with invitation of the Holy Spirit, and the power of our connected minds, we formed “Miracle Cell.”  We discussed several ideas about a mission statement, mostly with lofty goals of changing the world, but we discovered that the teachings of ACIM kept pulling us back to focus on the only thing we really have any control over, our own minds. So a very simple mission statement was born; “Miracle Cell - A team of men committed to getting themselves right and living it.”  After that our “Bucketmen” story was born.

At first merging principles of a conventional men’s group with ACIM teachings felt like mixing gasoline with water and at best the experience seemed awkward.  But after several meetings our vision was formed, our context was revealed, and our path was clear.  It was now time to really personalize ACIM into our lives through the support of other men. Our mission was much like the “Field of Dreams” movie line, “if you build it He will come” http://bitly.com/YouTube-FieldOfDreams.


Next month we will discuss the structure of our meetings and where we have gone with them. If you may be interested in what we are doing or have any feedback for us please feel free to contact us at Info@MiracleCell.org 

Paul Marinkovich is in his second year of the 2 year
ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community Miracles Center and he is one of the founding members of the new  Miracle Cell Men's Team. He was also the founder of "International Child Rescue League" and has provided expert testimony before both Houses of Congress in our nation's capital. He has been a commercial real estate appraiser for 30 years, is a father of three boys, and resides in Carlsbad, CA.  

Paul Marinkovich


Course In Miracles Society
7602 Pacific Street, Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68114