Ohio Illuman Monthly Update - October 2018
Happy Autumn, Brothers!
CAMPING WITH THE ELDERS
My name is Jim Mueller, and I'm part of the Southwest Ohio Illuman Chapter (Cincinnati/Dayton). I've just returned from the first EROP (Elders Rite of Passage), and I'd like to share a bit of that experience with you.
I and twenty-eight other men, ages 60 to 80, gathered at Ekone Ranch (4 full days: Sept. 19-23) in south/central Washington State for the inaugural Elders Rite of Passage (EROP). We were guided and surrounded by some 8-10 Illuman Brothers, whose sole purpose was to ensure our passage into and embrace of our Elder status as initiated men in the "Third Half" of our lives.
During those four days we were, through prayer, word and abundant ritual, guided toward an understanding that our lives are not yet over, age notwithstanding. We are, instead, entering, perhaps, the very richest years of our lives, the years wherein we take full hold of our redeemed suffering and woundedness. We take all of what life so far has taught us and hold it and offer it to the world about us. It was a true "rite of passage", acknowledging and boldly proclaiming our flowering status as Elders, Holy Fools and Prophets whose work is now to proclaim forgiveness and the promise of redemption in the midst of evil and suffering.
We were invited to acknowledge and befriend our losses and grief, we were asked to look death in the eye, to enter the grave literally, aware that it is there, waiting for us; but not something to fear; on the contrary; to welcome when our time comes. We experienced ourselves as newly alive and then we were blessed and sent forth to live our third half of life as men fully alive, who have tasted deeply of life and wish to be a leaven for future generations.
The impact of these days on me was not life-changing; it was however, life-affirming. Those days confirmed in me my gradual and continual growth into Elderhood over the last number of years. I left feeling validated and anointed to live my final years as an old, childlike Fool and Prophet offering acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, understanding (a Wounded Presence) to share with a broken and confused world.
The setting, as I said, was Ekone Ranch, a working ranch of some 1100+ acres in the high desert of south/central Washington. It was dry, it was cool, it was cold. We did some hiking (often optional). And we did a 5-hour sit one day amidst the beauty of the land. We were busy as we once more sought to become more fully aware of the richness of the tapestry that is our life; a tapestry that continues to be woven with loose strings, bright cloth, rags and at times chaotic events. "IT IS ALL GOOD!"
I am 79 and blessed with decent health. Some men had minor health challenges, but all were able to fully participate. The food was fresh, abundant and delicious. We slept in a bunk house in sleeping bags. Portalets were close by and there were outdoor "hot" showers. At least that is how it was at Ekone Ranch.
If you feel called to this, I'd encourage you to investigate future EROPs.
Ohio Chapter of Illuman
Without us God will not. But without God, we can not.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr