It was just a few weeks before Oracle 2020 that we realized we were not going to be able to gather in person for our leadership retreat this year. The shock and the sadness were strong. My own sense of grief lasted several days as I wondered what could possibly take the place of physically being with men from all over the world who are committed to this work. There is the sense when we are together that there is nothing that we cannot face together. It was a heartache to cancel the event.
In the end, nothing really can take the place of gathering in person. But we did find that gathering virtually via Zoom technology, with a thoughtfully planned schedule, good tech expertise, and a sense of purpose, could be quite an amazing experience. Many men worked many hours to make our virtual gathering possible. To them I extend a deep bow of appreciation and gratitude.
For years, we have called our annual leadership gathering “Oracle,” both to honor our roots and to honor what happens when we gather. A definition of oracle is “one who reveals hidden knowledge or divine purpose.” We came to our Oracle gathering seeking both knowledge that needs to be discovered and our sacred purpose in this global time. This continuing effort is being called “Re-Weaving Illuman.”
is to move in a zigzag course, to go back and forth, to unite into a coherent whole. It is a process that may look confusing or unproductive until one holds up the whole. Our intention, reflection, prayer, sense of community, and open heart will guide our zigzagging into a coherent whole. The voices of Oracle, from Conveners, Board, Wisdom Elders, and other leaders, were full of zigzagging as we shared our foundational stories of Illuman. Much of this zigzagging was gathered into a Harvesting Document of more than sixty pages that is being pored over by all three of our leadership groups, seeking signs for our direction and re-weaving.
Meanwhile, we are still plagued and, even as I write, our leadership is considering how we will connect virtually in the Fall for Soularize 2020. The pandemic has brought a global shock to our sense of well-being and customary ways. And there is no going back. As a friend recently wrote, “Panic and pandemic are upon the land.” She reminded us that the word
originally meant to be suddenly terrified by the roar of Pan. And Pan is god of the wild. It is certainly a wild call that has caught our attention.
We know the wild. Each of us has gone to that place. We sat in solitude there. We returned initiated men. That does not make us better. It does make us prepared.
We were made for this time. The choice is ours: to show up fully or not. We, as a community of men, have work in front of us: work for us to do and work to be done to us. This is the time for us as men to pause, pray, reflect, and share the way forward together. We will continue with another virtual gathering in June to follow up on the work done at Oracle 2020.
And we will remember Bob Sabath’s reminder in his moving address to us at the end of the gathering: Where two or three are gathered, there is conflict. We need to change our relationship to conflict. We fall and we get up. We fall and we get up. We fall and we get up. We need to get more comfortable with falling and agile with getting up, and embody the lesson of initiation: We are not in control, a lesson Bob called the practice of helplessness.
We are being initiated into a new reality, a “new normal,” a new
. The power of COVID-19 has shown us one thing in a very real way: We are all in this together.