Fun Friday…Defining Moments For Our Children
Posted by: Jessica Cornelius
My son Mason turned 13. This age is a big deal because it marks the teenage years, and in most cultures, it’s the day a boy becomes a man. I wonder how many teenagers would make wiser decisions if they knew they were a man and didn’t have to prove it by doing something stupid or immoral (or both)? Having said that, we decided to have a rite of passage ceremony at the beach. A rite of passage denotes rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group. We invited men that Mason looks up to and none of his friends, so that Mason could really focus on the importance of the event. I didn’t get to go either, it was guys only.
We have always told our children that when they turn 13 they are going to have a rite of passage ceremony. We told them it was all a secret, and they wouldn’t be able to find out anything about it until the special day. We have talked about it so much over the years that they have built it up in their minds to this grand epic event. After many hours of research, planning, and praying, it ended up being even more epic than I expected. God exceeded my expectations! I thought it was just going to be a special time to celebrate a milestone in Mason’s life. Oh no…Mason came home that night with a fresh passion for the Lord. I could tell from the look on his face that he had just had a life changing night!!!! The best way to describe it is that something was unlocked in him. Through tears he told me it was the best day of his life, and he will never forget it. He said that he didn’t know everyone loved him that much. In my mind I was thinking, “What?!?! How can you not know that?” He also told me about all of the wisdom he gained from the men that were there.
Before Mason went to bed he asked if he could pray with us. Then he said in his prayer, “I feel like tonight was the appetizer,” referring to the rest of his life being something to really look forward to. What happened is really simple. The men in Mason’s life helped place destiny in his heart and he accepted it to become a man. Here’s how it went down:
Mason is “kidnapped” in our house by two staff members. (We added this part to make it “epic”, as Mason would say). It didn’t end up very scary because our staff guys got the wrong kid, and I started laughing. Watch the video here.
When they got to the beach Mason was so surprised to see all of the men around a big bonfire, cheering for him. They started with the Wisdom Walk.
The Wisdom Walk is where different men walk with Mason from the bonfire to a dune with a valley in it that they deemed the “Valley of Manhood.” On the walk, the men shared a word of wisdom with Mason. Then they watched him shoot an arrow at a target set up for him and then prayed with him. Bil walked with Mason first. They weren’t there five minutes before they were both crying. Bil told him how much he approved of him, believed in him and shared that he is destined for greatness (which he has told him his whole life). Then Bil prayed with him. On the walk back, Mason said, “Dad, can we slow down? I want this to last.”
After all the wisdom walks were done, two friends began to beat drums (very tribal!) while they all put war paint on. Then they shaved some of Mason’s hair off with drums beating and all the guys hooping and hollering. When I researched rights of passage I found that this is often done so that the person comes away looking different. It represents a new beginning.
I had also read that there was usually a test of bravery. So Mason had to walk into the ocean, in the dark, to pull out an anchor that one of the guys had placed in the water earlier. Our beach is shallow for a long way out, but it is still creepy to go out sixty feet, in the dark, all alone. I picked an anchor so Mason would always have a visual to remind him that God’s Word is an anchor in his life. It keeps him from floating off and making unwise decisions.
After that, Bil talked with Mason about being a godly man and had him repeat a pledge that Bil wrote. He prayed over Mason while weeping, and then talked about Exodus 20:4, mentioning God’s blessing extending to generations. Then Bil asked his dad (Mason’s grandfather) to pray for Mason while all the men laid hands on him. You can see the pledge here.
What have you done, or plan on doing for a special time in your child’s life?