Conveners Corner – March 2022
By Mark Infusino, Co-Convener of Illuman SoCal
MY CONVERSATION WITH DAVE
I am one of the three Co-Conveners for Illuman SoCal. I was called through the new leadership process we started this past fall. On a desert trip a few weeks ago—one totally unrelated to Illuman—I was reminded, in a heart-to-heart talk over the campfire, about the importance of what we do. Dave (not his real name)* shared with me about the toxic religiosity of his family of origin that led directly to bloody physical abuse of the children. As you might guess, at one point in the conversation, I mentioned how important the Men’s Rites of Passage experience was for me. Dave’s response: “Oh, I’ve been on that.” He credited the Rites with helping him understand and commit to regular contemplative practice. This helped his process of healing, and kept him calm and able to walk with an open heart as his teenage children have faced some disturbing challenges.
I am tempted to imagine that near the end of our “five generations-long” project to return rites of passage to modern society, such encounters might become less rare as we approach a critical mass of adult men who have experienced the Rites.
It also startled me, in my conversation with Dave, how unhelpful it was to discuss my own MROP experience, or his, using “God-language.” For him, that three-letter word invoked the frankly demonic character that his family conjured up to justify their brutal scofflaw behavior. (His childhood involved regular moves to avoid legal consequences.) Admittedly, Dave’s experience is extreme. At the same time, those of us for whom traditional Christian symbols have opened up in a new, inspiring way need to keep our hearts open to men called to a different path to the top of the mountain. We may want to seek new words for transformational experience. I suggested to Dave that instead of using “God,” he might call upon “the caring spirit of my brothers.”
*“Dave” gave me permission to share this conversation.