I am remembering what the elder Ent named Treebeard said to the hobbits in Tolkien’s book, the Two Towers: “You must understand, young hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say”. This gets me thinking that anything worth doing, also takes a long time to do!
It was the early 1990’s when Fr. Richard Rohr focused on the challenges men were facing. A few years later in the mid-1990’s, he and his colleagues introduced the Men’s Rites of Passages. That overall effort was called MALEs (Men as Learners and Elders).
If you can, think back to the 1990’s. Climate change, then known as “global warming,” was barely a whisper. The tragedy of 9/11 was years in the future. No one had heard of gender fluidity. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had not yet taken place. People wondered whether it would be a woman or a man of color to be first elected president.
About 2010, Fr. Rohr discerned that he would step away from men’s work to focus on another calling. He gathered a group of men whose lives had been touched, even transformed, by the men’s work to design how to carry on with the work that Fr. Rohr pioneered. This grew into Illuman and he blessed it in 2012 to carry the men’s work forward. Illuman’s delivery of this work has just entered its second decade and we do it alongside men in more than ten other countries. But our efforts really go back to the early 1990’s, some 30 years ago.
If it’s worth doing, it takes a long time to do.
My own experience of our present moment in the United States is that we are collectively holding our breath. We intuit that something big is going to happen. We don’t know when, but probably soon and it’s not likely to be welcome. It might be a political event, economic, environmental, social, possibly several at once. Maybe it will be ok – but the odds seem against that.
And so, Illuman men are here now.
We’ve been growing, deepening, acquiring confidence and wisdom for these 30 years. As I leave my service as the Chair of Illuman’s Board, I can say with confidence that you can count on Illuman men to step up to serve the communities where we live and serve with care, compassion, and especially with initiative and leadership. We honor profound long-standing religious traditions. We embrace the reality that as a species, we are one with the rest of creation, gifted and blessed for a short time to marvel in wonder at what we experience. And to love it deeply.
Illuman men commit with our communities, human and more than human, to discern, to serve, to courageously undertake what is ours to do. Illuman counts on growing and capable leadership. Dan Harris is taking on the role of Chair of Illuman’s Board in January 2024. Please show him a warm welcome.
From the late 1990’s, I myself have gratefully participated with MALEs and with Illuman. I thank you now, for accompanying and supporting us on our long arc to recover the masculinity we were born into, one of compassion, leadership, service!
Illuman Board Chair and Wisdom Elder