by Terry Symens-Bucher
I joined the Illuman Board of Directors in 2014 and served as Board Chair from 2016 to 2020. Since 2020 I have served as an ex officio member of the Board. This month I am stepping into a different direction after almost ten years of Board service. As I sit and ponder those ten years, the faces of so many men who have given life to the organization come to my mind and heart. I bless each one, too many to name here, and acknowledge my being blessed by working shoulder to should with each.
In 2014 Illuman was barely three years old. Organizationally, we were as wobbly as a newborn fawn. But heart and purpose-wise we were as determined as salmon swimming toward spawning ground. We didn’t know whether we could survive, much less thrive, away from the Center for Action and Contemplation and Richard Rohr’s full-time participation. We weren’t necessarily sure of what our work in the world looked like other than knowing how to hold Men’s Rites of Passage. Our connections to our international brothers were unclear and the nature of those relationships in question. And how were our own leadership groups – Wisdom Elders, Conveners, and the Board – supposed to work together? It was ins 2016 at our Oracle leadership retreat that we were inspired by this articulation our vision:
We are men transforming men through a power greater than ourselves.
We are seeking a life changing spirituality.
We are focused on inner work that makes a difference in the world.
We are fed by the wisdom traditions of forgiveness and radical inclusivity.
We recover traditional patterns of male initiation.
We affirm a masculine path to healing that reveals the true and false selves and honors the path of descent.
We do this through the power of nature, ritual, image, story and council.
That was a moment. It was a vision that gave us an eagle’s focus and perspective even as we spread our wings wide enough to support men wherever they are on their spiritual journey. And we are not done. As Steve points out in his article, we are in this work for the long haul. This is the work of a lifetime. I have found this men’s work deeply worth doing, and change my role knowing there is much still to do. I am encouraged by Reinhold Niebur’s insight that nothing worth doing can be accomplished in one lifetime. And how blessed we are to have the privilege to do this work in our lifetime!