The Right of Passage Part 1
Note this is part one of articles dealing with Christian growth
Attempting to stand stoicâ€”as stoic as a 13-year-old couldâ€” the young nativeâ€™s lungs bellowed a heavy sigh as he watched adult tribesman weave leaves into a glove looking device of which he would soon adorn. While the weavers continued their task, other members of the Satereâ€™- Maweâ€™ tribe were out collecting what this adolescent feared the most. But he will neither make known the churning in his gut nor wipe the sweat drops forming on his furrowed browâ€”he is hoping the sweltering tropical heat will mask the real fountain of anxiety seeping out. His mind shifts from the weaving to the torturous ritual he has witnessed many times using what the other tribesman are gathering. Bullet ants.
The ants received their name from the pain inflicted by their giant stingerâ€”equivalent to that of being shot with a bullet. The physical suffering inflicted is alleged to be 30 times more painful than a beeâ€™s sting. The tribesmen are collecting them for this young man and others that will likely taste the most intense suffering they will ever experience. This youthful native is aware of this but stands detached. He must. He is practicing for the eveningâ€™s ritual of the rite of passage to manhood.
The tribesman return to the village with their collection of ants, hundreds if not thousands. They dip the ants in a natural sedative. This homemade solution will wear off in an hour. Once sedated, one by one, they place them inside the woven glove with the stinger pointing to the inside of the glove. In an hour, the ants will awaken to writhe in angry desperation. The ritual is ready to begin.
A hollow bamboo tube moans out the celebrations start. The initiate, along with the others desiring this passage into manhood, gathers at the sacred pole extending horizontally. He places his hand on top of the pole, with no hesitation, no display of fearâ€”not on the outside, but inside his gut churns wildly, his mind reeling with anticipation.
The torturous glove slides over his hand, instant shots of venom play havoc with every nerve in his hand. His face an emotionless stoneâ€”no tears, wincing in pain, or screams from their tormented heart is allowed. His hands start to swellâ€”they will look like stumps after five minutes. They become paralyzed as the medicine man leads him around in a ceremonial dance. The pain will last 24 hours. To be a true warrior, he will have to endure this ritual 20 times.
The ritual of the right of passage into adulthood varies from culture to culture. Jumping from a 100 ft high platformâ€” in a bungee jumping styleâ€” with a vine attached to the ankle is heart-stopping to onlookers. The candidate for manhood will either dive to the brushing of his chest to the earth belowâ€”hoping that the vine length had been calculated correctlyâ€”or experience instant bone-crushing death.
Or maybe the African Maasai tribeâ€™s rite to passage, having their youth hunt lions with just a spear and a shield. They become a man or are ripped to shreds by the savage king of the jungle.
Then you have the milder traditions like the Hebrewâ€™s Bar Mitzvahâ€”memorizing scriptures. Finally, there is mine!
to be continues in next posting...
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