Sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists and many other -ogists will tell you that each person has to pass through several rites of passage to get 'there', wherever they deem 'there' to be.

They seem to agree that there appear to be three umbrella headings for these changes - separation, transition (or limination), and incorporation. There was one particular September in my life when the eldest child began Secondary School, the middle child started Junior School, and the youngest began Kindergarten. At home I felt like the proverbial lone match rattling in the box. One of the most important shifts in a person's life takes place when he 'officially' leaves adolescence behind and enters adulthood, but being grown up is not tantamount to being emotionally mature. One of the finest tales of transition extant concerns a Native American custom:

Bear Blackfeather was on the threshold of adulthood. Like thousands of Cherokee before him, he had to undergo the test to discover whether he was deserving of the name Cherokee.

His father was dead, so it fell to his oldest maternal uncle to take him into the forest.

The Cherokee Brave Code of Honor ordained the boy would have to remain seated in the thicket all night despite his fear, hunger, and thirst – blindfolded. Only when the warm rays of the rising sun struck his face, could he remove his blindfold and become a Man.

Growling and hissing and snapping branches in the night did not even tempt him to remove his blindfold.

Came the morning and the blissful warmth of the sun flushed his cheeks. He waited five minutes more, just to prove to himself that he could. When he removed his blindfold, his uncle, BlueEagle Mountain, was there to welcome him into Adulthood.

For in each Test, the adult never leaves the Youth's side. And the new Adult promises never to reveal this traditional secret to any Youth.

It's nice to have someone look after you, even though you may not know it's being done. Let's all look around us and see whether someone needs a hidden helping hand from us. Growing older doesn't require effort – but helping others grow up does.

Helping Hands

Here, together,
each one different and unique.
Let's unite...
Pulling hearts together
in order to cherish,
nurture, love,
and sustain those growing up.

Helping others heal and hope
and encouraging them now,
to fulfil future dreams,
with support from You.

-Tanja Cilia


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