Coming of Age

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Over the weekend I spent the night in a tepee. Experienced my first coming-of-age ceremony.

And I felt incredibly honored to be included in this spiritual rite of passage for a young woman of Mexican-Indian heritage.

As I participated in this powerful and sacred ceremony, I found myself imagining the possibilities.

What if all girls greeted the threshold of womanhood supported by the kind of love, wisdom, mirroring, and honoring I witnessed these indigenous women showering upon this very blessed 13-year-old girl?

What if every girl learned that her body was something to be honored, not ashamed of?

That she is beautiful, inside and out, just as she is? Without needing to change anything.

That she does not need to fear expressing herself? Or be afraid to learn from making mistakes?

That she can listen to and trust her inner wisdom?

Wow!

It has taken me years to learn these lessons.  Years accompanied by much struggling and pain. And often feeling I was on my own in the process.

Yet 13-year-old Trinity already knows who she is.

Grounded in the sacredness of her people’s earth-honoring ceremonies, empowered by the love of her community, and centered in an awareness of the Creator present in all life, she is entering this stage of her life totally prepared. Her humility, maturity, and sensitivity impressed me.

Even her name impressed me.

Only weeks ago I had been a stranger to this community. Until I met Carlos, and, without hesitation, he invited me.

The abuela (grandmother) of their tribe wasn’t so sure. After all, she didn’t know this white-faced woman. But she welcomed me. As did every member of the community. They welcomed a stranger into their circle.

I couldn’t help but think that this was the Gospel message of “welcome the stranger” in action.

Later that evening, we gathered around a lantern in the tepee, setting up our cots and sleeping bags. After settling in, we told coming-of-age stories, while outside the darkness deepened.

We shared some of our most embarrassing moments, to let this young woman know that, yes, you will have these moments. You will make mistakes, too. It’s inevitable. And you will survive.

moon cycle

As I listened to these women share their wisdom, the moonlight poured in through the opening in the top of the tepee. The beauty of this spiritual ritual deeply touched me. And I wished I’d had such a ceremony to welcome my menses, my “moon.”

In the circle we shared our gifts for Trinity. Mine was a poem I’d written and a beautiful broken seashell—a whelk—I’d found on Atlantic Beach while vacationing with special friends. At first I hesitated to part with it.

But I knew it was the perfect gift.

seashell-broken

And my words for Trinity are words for all girls coming of age, especially those who don’t have a circle of wise women guiding them forward, as I did not have. I share them here.

Learn to trust your inner guidance, the wisdom that resides within.

As a girl, no one told me this.

As a woman, it took years to discover the truth.

Our inner authority is the voice of God within.

You can trust it.

Don’t be afraid to be seen.

Don’t shrink under the power of others.

Be all that you are,

Empowered by your unique gifts.

Know that all that you are is gift to the world.

Be grateful always for this gift.

This broken shell I found on a beach in North Carolina

It spoke to me of my woundedness, my brokenness.

And how, even with these broken places within me, I am whole and perfect and beautiful.

This is the message I want to give to you.

Become the woman you were meant to be, fully alive

Not holding anything back, not afraid of your gifts or your power

Not afraid of your broken places.

Strengthened by the challenges, the hurts, the sufferings

Be grateful for the pain and suffering along the way.

They are your teachers.

They may take pieces of your heart,

But they will make you shine like a shell in the sea.

May we learn from the wisdom of native cultures. May we honor this gift called life as we cross each threshold. May we give thanks to the Creator for all of life.

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Sun rises over our campsite as we prepare for a day of ceremony

 

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About Pauline

I've been a freelance writer and editor for many years and I'm seeking to follow my heart in this stage of my journey, as the major roles in my life as wife and mother have changed. Not sure where this will lead, but I'm taking one step at a time as I listen within.

Posted on July 19, 2017, in spirituality, Transition, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Thank you Pauline for once again sharing your journey with those who love you and wish you the very best future going forward. The ceremonial affirmation to this young girl is certainly a blessing to her young life as well as to the people who support her going forward. It is heartwarming to hear about this.
    It is a blessing to me to have you share your journey of discovery and faith. May the Lord Bless you and keep you safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a beautiful and tender story, Pauline!

    Isn’t it interesting: I am guessing that an outsider might look at this young woman’s life and note all the ways in which she might be poor, i.e. lacking in material goods or security. But, oh, what riches she received from the other women in her community and from you in that ceremony! Those are the kinds of gifts that can support and sustain her through the inevitable dark hours she will face in the months and years ahead on her life journey.

    Thank you!

    Love,
    Rob

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer Murphy

    What a beautiful tradition, and how special it was for you to have been a part of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So beautiful, Pauline! I’m at a week-long symposium o the Enneagram, and this fits in perfectly with what we’ve been talking about this week, so I shared it with the group. (Only verbally, didn’t print it) Couldn’t have been more timely!
    Blessing and prayers continue for your journey. Graceyour continued journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So beautiful, Pauline! I’m at a week-long symposium o the Enneagram, and this fits in perfectly with what we’ve been talking about this week, so I shared it with the group. (Only verbally, didn’t print it) Couldn’t have been more timely!
    Blessing and prayers continue for your journey. Graceyour continued journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry…I was trying to make a correction ad hit the send button. Twice.

    Like

  7. Kathy Nickodemus

    Wow, I am interested in more detail.  If you are available, let’s meet before your mosaic class next week.  We are home and changed, exhilarated and  tired.  Kathy

    From: A Journey of the Heart To: tknick@yahoo.com Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:39 PM Subject: [New post] Coming of Age #yiv2883445075 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2883445075 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2883445075 a.yiv2883445075primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2883445075 a.yiv2883445075primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2883445075 a.yiv2883445075primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2883445075 a.yiv2883445075primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2883445075 WordPress.com | Pauline posted: “Over the weekend I spent the night in a tepee. Experienced my first coming-of-age ceremony.And I felt incredibly honored to be included in this spiritual rite of passage for a young woman of Mexican-Indian heritage.As I participated in this powerful” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks, Kathy. I’m glad you’re back and had a good trip. I hope to call you soon.

    Like

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