Ohio Illuman offers a Men's Rites of Passage for younger men called Crossings Ohio. Chuck Rihm, Convener for Ohio Illuman was asked to offer some of his reflections and insights based on his personal experiences with the young men’s rites. Chuck offers the following...
By Chuck Rihm, Ohio Convener
I recently participated in Crossings Ohio, a young men’s rites of passage, at a former Boy Scout camp in central Ohio. I was one of nine elders who helped five young men mark the move to manhood through ritual, time in nature, and contemplation. Crossings is a program developed by Weaver Joel Blunk for young men aged 18–30 that is based on the five truths outlined by Fr. Richard Rohr in Adam’s Return and utilized in Men as Learners and Elders’ (MALEs) Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) sponsored by numerous Illuman regions around the world.
For those of you who have attended an MROP, you would recognize what we do at Crossings, but we do it in ways that help young men in their first half of life, who may not have experienced as much pain or suffering in their shorter lives. The elders share stories and examples of how we learned the five core teachings of male initiation, and then we invite the initiates to do so as well. We provide experiences to help teach the initiates each lesson experientially, in their flesh and bones; in their hearts as well as their heads. We give them time to share in Council what they are experiencing, and we introduce them to periods of contemplation.
This is the fourth year that Ohio Illuman has hosted this four-day program, and each year it is always challenging and rewarding to be involved. Each year I am reminded of my MROP in 2008, held in Frost Valley, New York. I learn again each of the five truths; I experience them in my body. Again this year, when I was tired, hungry, hot, and stressed, I had to learn again that I am not in control and that I am not that important. I share from the darker times in my life when I have failed but, in doing so, I actually win. We do our best as elders to model what healthy masculinity looks like. We work alongside the initiates. We fast with them. We undergo the same ordeals that they do. By using mud, blood, ash, fire, water, and oil, we usher young men into what it means to be a man, to be the best men that they are called to be. And I think we are successful, in spite of our shortcomings, because the initiates have returned in following years to function as elders, giving back what they have received, serving each other.