January 2023
In this Drumbeat...

 by Jim Burns, Illuman Board Member

Many men have told me some version of, "Illuman and the MROP have transformed my life, but I don't know how to speak with another man to help them see that this might be for them as well."  
As my daughter would say, "That's fair." Perhaps this is because Illuman is an experience, not a tangible product or service. I remember the admonition delivered on the Sunday afternoon of my MROP: "You will want to speak with others about your experience, but beware: Words fail. This cannot be described adequately. It can only be experienced."  
So, what are we to do? 
Conversation as a Spiritual Practice 
I previously wrote about Council as a spiritual practice. In our On Becoming Elders Passion Circle, we discussed this idea. We inquired whether, perhaps, the principles and practices of Council might apply to conversations as well.  
Two weeks later, a man shared in Council: "Now, when I enter a personal conversation, I immediately shift into a Council posture, with the intention to be there for the person, to listen deeply, and to ask prompt-like questions to help them share their story."  
Illuman's third Touchstone is Connecting—we are men who choose another to walk with, shoulder to shoulder. What if we were to adopt this as a regular spiritual practice? How would this shift the way we view the next person we encounter and each person after that?  
How might this spiritual practice of connecting form a basis upon which to start a conversation with another man, person, or group? 
Have a Conversation with Another Man—But NOT about Illuman 
Effective conversations always start with the agenda and needs of the people we speak with. 
“Relationship first” is the most important principle. Until we are related to the point another trusts us enough to share their story—experience, feelings and concerns—any conversation about Illuman is premature and ineffective. We haven't earned the right. 
“Context rules” is another key principle for conversations. Until we understand another's context—their goals, problems, needs, and priorities—we can't understand how to make what we say relevant in their context. We don't know how to answer their first question: "Why should I care/listen/change…?" 
Once you know this, you will know how to have the conversation lead back to Illuman. 
A Guide to Talking about Illuman 
To assist you in conducting these conversations, we've prepared a simple Conversation Guide. It contains both a Learning Guide – To Prepare for a Conversation, providing foundational conversation principles and a simple framework for the conversation, as well as the Illuman Guide to Conversation with a Man Unfamiliar with Illuman, offering specific language to help you conduct the conversation. This is not a script. The phrases are provided as "modules" that can be selected, used, or configured as your situation requires. It also provides questions to ask (as prompts) and suggestions for categories of needs to "listen for." 
When it comes to conversations, like sports, there is only one way to learn: practice. Start with "safe" conversations with Illuman brothers, family, or friends.  
If all you accomplish in your initial conversations is a sincere presence and deep listening, your conversation should be considered a success. Remember, this isn't about us. We are about the conversation. We are simply the conduit for the Spirit. Allow the Spirit to work. There is no need for persuasion or even explanation.  
Feedback Request 
An additional advantage of a conversation guide is the ability to have many people conduct similar conversations based on a common process and common language. This allows for feedback that can quickly improve the quality, ease, and effectiveness of a particular conversation, for all people. In other words, this guide is a work in progress. Thank you to those who provided feedback to get us to this point. Please access the links above for the latest versions, now and going forward. And if, as you use this guide, you have any questions, suggestions, or challenges, please feel free to send them to Jim.Burns@illuman.org.

Fr. Adam Bucko spoke at the Illuman Watering Hole in December. He shared how a mentor of his suggested he approach other people and the impact he experienced for himself and with others.

Sadness settles in like a ground fog. 

It penetrates all the little cracks and crevices. It clings to the surfaces and forms drops. When the drops fall, they become tears.
I know not why I cry, only that I have a deep sadness.
Maybe it’s a deep longing of dreams unfulfilled. Maybe it’s a fleeting memory of a friend long ago passed away. Maybe it’s just a general mysterious melancholy.
The sadness permeates the heart and the soul and radiates outward, creating a kind of blanket around me. It reminds me of lying in the middle of a forest clearing at night on a full moon with the mist hovering right above the ground. It glows in the moonlight. An owl hoots in the distance. I do not mind being sad. It is not something I frequently feel. I treasure this fleeting moment as a gift. Soon the sun will come up, and the mist will evaporate. 
—Dean Robertson 2022 (Initiated man from Illuman of Washington)

In 2014, Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff wrote a piece with the title “Soccer as a Universal Secular Religion.” It was a reflection on the world’s experience of the 2014 World Cup, where Rome welcomed to the Circus Maximus the winning team, which was Germany that year. Soccer, or Futbol, breaks down borders while creating a container for holding cultural and national pride as the games unfold. 

Boff recognized this at a time when the cold war had ended, and formal socialism was on the decline, when globalization was in evolution, and the events of terrorism were still fresh in hearts and souls of peoples everywhere. People were being challenged to assess their own lives and values in the face of accelerating polarization. One thing continued, true to form…the world’s love of competitive sport in the game of soccer/futbol; it became an existential connection. 

The Concilio Internacional Virtual of Illuman en Español has created an international sacred container for men transforming men. Gathering monthly now for more than two years, brothers have joined us from all across the United States, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. During the World Cup, especially during key games (some would argue that they are all key!), brothers from across the border, in Spanish and Portuguese, with an occasional word or two in English, were interacting and exchanging opinions with one another through WhatsApp. It felt at times as if we were all in the same place, almost feeling as if in the stadia themselves, making commentaries while watching the same games in real time. Whether cheering, expressing angst over “bad calls” by the officials, or just seeing their favorite player and team do an amazing move on the field, we had a truly alive experience of the World Cup. Illuman being our deeper connection, we are brothers on a journey of transformation, with soccer/futbol as the moment of connection. As Boff writes, “The great metaphor present in all cultures and mythologies: the future of humanity is an endless party and a fraternization without barriers. It is God's feast, the immense theater of his glory, where all of us are invited to participate.”

The bottom line: We were united in spirit, and with none of us from Argentina, we cheered for Argentina to become the world champions. We watched, we anticipated, and exploded into a common joy of a worldwide victory, while miles and oceans apart from one another! 

Please invite brothers of Spanish-speaking background to join us on the fourth Saturday of every month. They can find more details here.

Illuman’s signature event, this 5-day, 4-night experience awakens men to the adventure and mystery of their own masculinity, their deep spirituality, their potential for leadership, and their life’s purpose. Follow the links below to learn more about the one nearest you. Note: Some chapters will also be offering the rites for Spanish speakers (Umbrales) concurrently. 

Illuman of Minnesota Retreat
February 3–5, 2023

Learn what the film Avatar can say to you while it supports your personal, communal, and spiritual growth. Be ready for an unparalleled opportunity to connect with other men of good character; make time for your own deeper reflection and growth; and find your wild, untamed edge of spiritual expansion. Hosted by Illuman of Minnesota and facilitated by Jeffry Jeanetta-Wark, MA, LCSW, founder of the Center for Integrated Well-Being.
2nd Wednesdays, February 8–May 10, Noon ET

The Art and Soul of Storytelling Passion Circle is starting a four-month series in February. The circle will meet via Zoom Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, and May 10, at noon Eastern Time. We will concentrate on powerful personal stories that help us be in touch with what matters most in our lives, and, along the way, practice basic storytelling skills. Men with all levels of experience in storytelling are welcome to join our circle. Contact Tom Sparough at tsparough@gmail.com if interested.
(Spring 2023 Session)

A 9-week online community for fathers and soon-to-be fathers
Tuesday evenings starting February 28th
Two time options: East Coast: 9–10 PM ET; West Coast: 8–9 PM PT

Designed to meet new and soon-to-be dads at a moment when life has initiated them into fatherhood, enabling them to do their own deep inner work around what it means to be a father. In the words of one past participant, “I initially joined with the focus on my partner’s sons. I never thought it would become so much about my own dad.”
An Online Men’s Writing Retreat Inspired by the Works of Mary Oliver
March 10–11, 2023

At this year's virtual writing retreat, we will soak in the wisdom and beauty of the poetry of Mary Oliver. We will use the fire and water of her words to illuminate and wash over our own lives. We will try to capture our thoughts on paper. We will share our journey over the course of our time together. (This retreat will be an online adaptation of the in-person gathering of Wild and Precious Life held in January 2023.)
Marysville, Ohio
March 17–19, 2023

Working with the theme of changing seasons and shades of light and dark within all of us, this retreat, led by the Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, will explore the nature of our relationship with God in the changing conditions and seasons of our lives.

Aravaipa Canyon, Arizona
April 28-30, 2023

The Way of Council is a central part of what Illuman does to promote healthier masculinity and “inner work that makes a difference in the world.” If you’ve ever participated in this practice, you’ve hopefully experienced good Council Stokers—i.e., the leaders who facilitate the Council practice. For those interested in developing this skill for yourself, we will offer a six-session series on the Art of Being a Stoker beginning January 7, 2023. These 90-minute sessions will be offered on the first Saturday of each month at 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern.

Connect with other men wherever you are. Just click here to find a list of Virtual Council options and pick the one that works best for you. All are invited!
Illuman is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose vision is to see men transforming men and, through them, families and communities for generations to come. Our mission is to support men in their life-long journey of spiritual transformation. 
Your support in all forms, including prayer, service, and money, is met with gratitude and a commitment to honor your gifts by using them to support men on their spiritual journey.
Please also remember Illuman in your estate planning. Contact us at dca@illuman.org for more information.


We are men transforming men through a power greater than ourselves.
We seek a life changing spirituality.
We focus 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.
We seek to form future generations of men who will restore these practices.
We are building a world that celebrates the beauty of all beings.