Coming of age within a community’s “Story” of rites of passage honors the central developmental task of adolescents - the search for one’s authentic spiritual self and deepening their connection with community, culture and nature. They are the public affirmation of an individual’s emerging adulthood. In reciprocity they strengthen the bonds between people in a community in ways that serve survival.
Evolutionary evidence documents their existence for 30,000 years. They are an essential element in youth development and serve our survival. The celebration of a rite of passage is renewing for the entire community, which includes earth and all our relations. A child's public expression of and commitment to a community's values and beliefs reinforces expectations for behaviors for the survival of the entire community and health and wellbeing of all our relations. A child's coming of age presents an opportunity for the whole community to examine, adapt and re-commit themselves to their social and cultural heritage. In this light it takes a whole child to raise a village.
Education and youth development theories, programs and approaches are valuable and represent different stories. We recognize and respect that citizens are connected to cultures and religions that have their own rituals and practices. These transmit values that inform and guide expectations for behavior, especially around times of transition, like coming of age. What we are doing is embarking on integrating stories that have emanated from outside of one’s community (programs) and belong to individuals (rituals) into a community’s own rite of passage story for a shared sense of community.
We call this: “Yours, Mine and Ours.” You have Your story that includes values, faith, programs, rituals and ways of being human handed down from your ancestors and I have stories that are Mine in this way as well. Together, we can help discover OUR common story, and design rituals and ways of being human together that honor and respect each other. Helping OUR common rite of passage story emerge will lead to practices, protocols, rituals and ways of being together that nurture life and can be in service to our selves, our congregations, our community, our schools and culture fostering connection and balance to nature and our sacred Earth. The story we co-design for raising our children through rites of passage can help regenerate a sense of community that fosters civic engagement, healing and social justice.
We believe that it takes a whole child to raise a village.
“No paradox, no progress.”
Physicist Niels Bohr
But what are rites of passage, what is their significance, and why are they so important today?