Convener Ramblings, May 2019

Greetings Brothers,

I pray this note finds you well and in good spirits.  I find myself over-busy (again) these past weeks with Easter, family visiting from Texas, our NorCal Illuman leadership retreat and my first participation in the Illuman leadership retreat in Missouri.  What continues to remain steady is my meditation practice that helps me keep the outer busyness in perspective by ensuring I make time to continue my inner journey.

I look forward to catching my breath and allowing my soul to catch up with me over the next couple of weeks. For me, the calendar seems to be overbooked from March into early May and this year was no exception.

Do you ever experience periods of such business that your prayer practice is disrupted?
How do you manage through these times and how do you get yourself back on track?

Rich at a waterfall in the Missouri woods
Waterfall in the Missouri woods

What is an MROP?


What is an MROP? What Does an MROP Do?

by Terry Symens-Bucher, Illuman President

As developed and led by Illuman and our brothers overseas, what exactly is a Men’s Rites of Passage? Is it truly a ritual of passage from one stage of a man’s life to the next? If so, what stages are involved, and how does the movement unfold? These questions were raised by Bill Plotkin’s presentation and guidance at last October’s Soularize. After meeting and listening to men who have gone through the MROP, Bill agrees that the MROP is a significant and transformative experience. As raised within his soul-centric model of human development (described in his book Nature and the Human Soul), his questions seem to be necessary and helpful.

I think it is crucial for us to consider these questions, not only to understand and enhance what happens in an MROP but to understand who we are trying to serve. Moreover, they can help us understand how an MROP can initiate the Journey of Illumination. Indeed, this reflection can help us to understand the Journey of Illumination more deeply and aid us in developing programs and curricula. What I am proposing in this article is that, without addressing these questions, we cannot fully understand what is truly ours (as Illuman) to do.

How does an Illuman MROP serve a man? How does it differ from any other experience or adventure he might chose to undertake? If it is an initiation, what does it initiate? In reflecting on these questions, I have been deeply influenced by The Four Vision Quests of Jesus written by Steven Charleston, a Choctaw Indian, and Episcopal Bishop. He says there are four basic components to the classic Native American vision quest: preparation, community, challenge, and lament. I think these deeply resonate with my experience of MROPs-as both an initiate and a returning man. He goes further to juxtapose the “Hero with a Thousand Faces” and the heroic model of Western European quests, saying native quests are “not a test of how strong and brave a person can be, but rather, how vulnerable he or she can be.”

Vulnerability. I have been through many initiations in my life-conventional and otherwise-and very few of the human-created ones moved me toward vulnerability or humility. I think this may be a key to Illuman MROPs-the creation of a container and ritual that allows men to open their hearts and then, through the Journey of Illumination, learn to keep them open.

Illuman men are reflecting upon and working with the experience of the MROPs in order to better understand what we are called to do. As in the writing of scripture, we start by reflecting upon our sometimes messy and seemingly contradictory experience and try to understand it rather than conceptualizing an ideal and then trying to fit our experience into the concept. I invite you to continue the experience and reflection. If you feel called to do so, there are nine opportunities worldwide in 2019 for you to consider participating in a Men’s Rites of Passage as an initiate or a returning man. They can be found HERE.


For information about the MROP and Events, NorCal MALEs is hosting Click HERE