April 6th – 10th, Bob Colaresi and I traveled to Oracle, AZ for the annual Illuman (Formerly MALEs) Leadership Meeting. Personally, while I had attended most of these meetings since the “early days”, it had been 3 years since I had been able to attend. It was so rewarding to at once, see many of the familiar faces and also to meet new men who have entered into leadership from the various Chapters of Illuman nationally and internationally. I am so impressed at the quality of these men, traveling at their own expense often, committed to serving other men in their spiritual journey.
After initially meeting as a group, the group was divided into two, depending on who attended the last couple of years. The reason for this was training in “The Way of Council.” The leadership of Illuman has elected to adopt The Way of Council as a tool for discernment, decision making, processing, interacting and development. We had representatives from the Ojai Foundation taking each group through training in this Way.
The Four Tenants of The Way of Council are:
Speak from the Heart
Listen heartfully (from the heart)
Be spontaneous (do not rehearse while waiting to speak)
Be lean of speech (be mindful of the words you choose and of the time factor)
Council is always held in a circle (maybe an oval or other modification as the space requires but always without hierarchy).
While some of these tenants seem to be obvious to those of us who participate in small groups, I was surprised at how they take on a deeper meaning when performed mindfully. And the “power of the circle” was palpable.
At the final meeting in which all were back together, the Executive Board and the Wisdom Elders met in an inner circle while the remainder of the leadership was in a circle of witnesses in a wider outer circle. In this Way of functioning, I witnessed problem solving, reconciliation, planning, discernment; all in the context of this process. It was remarkable to witness the presence of energy and Spirit.
Certainly, this Way of Council can be useful in our Region of IL MALEs. Perhaps a gathering of the Initiated Men of our area, utilizing this Way of being together in the circle can help us move forward in our collective journeys…and guide our Region forward. This new (actually ancient) paradigm of leadership can also become another path for the betterment of ourselves and those with whom we live and come into contact each day.