New Passage

Photo: © Renee Heath

 

It had been a long night. It will be a long day and night still.

The old man sighed and watched the spirits paint the sky.

The youth had spent the night secluded in silent contemplation. The elders had kept vigil not far from the tent.

Some elders frowned at the arrangement. “Right of passage should require complete solitude,” they’d argued. “How else will there be quietude enough to hear the whispers of the land?”

“Times had changed,” he’d stressed. “The current world requires the tent’s protection as well as our watchful eye. Surely the spirits, in their wisdom, understand.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

45 thoughts on “New Passage

    • Thank you, dear Sunny! The photo is supplied as the prompt and it IS amazing. I adore the sky in it. It certainly sets the mood and the tone. Thank you also for the very very kind feedback. Luv ya Na’ama

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  1. You’ve updated the ritual coming of age very sensitively. Your story could be read as symbolising the way we all need to change to stay in harmony with social norms. The story left me with a peaceful feeling – nice!

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    • Yes, it is difficult in the cities. Which may be why city kids who wish to reconnect with ancient traditions may not be able to just be left on their own in the desert for two days, but require the watchful eyes of elders. And … it is always a good education to get out of the city, as one can, for a time, so one can see the sky without man-made light pollution and hear the whispers of the land. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Margaret! Yes, the best traditions know how to evolve, and the strongest ones will survive even the grief and devastation of deliberate attempts at annihilation and colonialism. I’m glad that there are many Indigenous communities that are reviving and restoring and repairing and adjusting their age-old traditions to fit some of the realities of today, while also maintaining a living link to enduring yesterdays. 🙂 Na’ama

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  2. A beautiful piece, Na’ama. I like your phrasing, including, “…watched the spirits paint the sky.” Times have certainly changed where the elders must provide protection for their young ones. Isn’t that a sad commentary on our world today? I’m sure the spirits understand.

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    • Thanks, Brenda!
      Yes, I think it is always a difficult time when one needs to adjust traditions to reflect the limitations of current times. Not only do youngsters need protection of the elders today in order to not be vulnerable to who knows, but many of the youths of today do not have the same life experiences as their ancestors might’ve had growing up, and so they aren’t as prepared for the solitude or the survival skills (making shelter, etc) that their ancestral youths might have had. So in a way this is also a commentary on the losses born of colonialism and systematic eradication of Native traditions.
      And … yes … I am sure the spirits understand.

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  3. Listening to the spirit of the land. So profound. It is true world has changed. We can listen more and listen from a distance. But are we listening to the spirit of the land?

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    • Indeed, change is the only constant. Anyone who tries to rigidly hold on to traditions as immovable things set in stone risks missing the essence of these traditions to hyper-focus on details that may well have been relevant at a time, but are by now outdated and no-longer-relevant.

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  4. I don’t mind change, in fact welcome it in some situations. But it is very sad when change comes because people have become so untrustworthy. Easy to sympathize with the elders, but understand the need for protection.

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    • Hi Linda, Yes, I agree that change is inevitable, even welcome sometimes … AND that it is sad when adjustments need to be made because of circumstances that aren’t favorable. I think that in this case it may be both that there are risks from outside (i.e. less than trustworthy persons who may prey on a youth left alone) and the realities of less preparedness in the life we live (i.e. youths today that for the most part haven’t grown with the outdoors, survival skills and know-how for self-protection in the wilderness, compared to similar training and life-skills in youths in generations of old, where life had prepared youths for transition into certain adulthood tasks and responsibilities that may be very different today than they were then). So … yes, there is the sadness over some changes in the world, and mostly — for me — over the long term effects of colonialism and suppression of Indigenous cultures, practices, language, and statehood, in a way that led to much loss of traditions that now must be adjusted.
      Untrustworthy people is an complicated term … I’ve heard say (by an elder) that for many in First Nations and Indigenous Tribes, the untrustworthy were met in the deceit and betrayal of treaties and the mistreatment of their people by those who saw them as less than, and coined a rich heritage and culture ‘primitive’ and needing of extinction. … Granted, there are honorable persons (and dishonorable ones) in every group of people, though I think one cannot completely ignore the reality that the changes that are needed now in rights of passage of Indigenous youth are quite tightly linked to the betrayals of trust during their ancestors time (and sometimes to today, with marginalization and so on).
      Thank you for this comment … and I’ll get off the soapbox for now … 😉 Na’ama

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      • I do understand, Na’ama, as much as one can from the perspective of someone who has never been displaced, nor done the displacing. What I have trouble with is the attitude that America is the ONLY nation that has ever had slaves, or lied to indigenous people, etc. Or that the indigenous people were all extremely healthy and loving toward other tribes before the Europeans came to the New World. SO not true. Not excusing misconduct, just wondering why America seems to be targeted for these crimes when every nation throughout history has pushed other nations here and there, taken slaves, tortured prisoners–well. Enough. I’ve probably made dozens of enemies already 🙂

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      • I think that it is a misconception to think that only America is being held accountable for its treatment of Indigenous persons. There has been a long issue in South Africa, in Australia and New Zealand, in Canada (which is also America, of course, but I assume you’re speaking of the USA).

        I don’t think anyone is claiming that all Indigenous tribes were peaceful or without issue. That said, there was a balance that had been maintained for many centuries and which the Europeans shifted — some of it unknowingly (e.g. by carrying in pathogens that the Indigenous population had no immunity against and by which decimated whole communities and shifted the powers) and some of it knowingly (by pitting one tribe against another and using existing animosities to sow additional discord with the intent of “having the natives kill each other for us”).

        Amplifying social issues isn’t something new — colonialism did the same in Africa in order to make it easier to get slaves. People had used “divide and conquer” for centuries, and always with the intent of oppressing the other and enriching oneself, often under the guise of righteousness, religion, and/or morality.

        I think that one does not need to see the viewing of history through the lens of those it had impacted the most, as a vilifying of all Americans. Many of the settlers who came across the sea, fleeing whatever awfulness in Europe and hoping for a better life in the “New World” weren’t any worse than most of us today. Not all owned slaves (not even in the South). However, the realities of colonialism and the systematic use of racism in America are facts. They may not be pretty or comfortable, but I think the first step to healing is acknowledging wrong for its wrong, without comparing it to the wrongs of others.

        By the way, I don’t find the discussion of injustice — and history and its international realities — to be something that makes enemies. The opposite is true. I think that having conversations about difficult topics is a good way to make FRIENDS. 🙂

        Your views are as valid as mine, and your feeling have every right to be heard. History is complicated. It is difficult to be accused of things ones ancestors had done. I have friends who are of German ancestry. They carry the legacy of Nazism and of the Holocaust, and though they had not been born at the time of WWII, and though the families of some of them have not been Nazi sympathizers, in the eyes of the world their parents and grandparents (and to some, they, too) remain associated with Hitler. The very sound of them speaking their mother tongue is a painful association to some whose families were systematically decimated in the holocaust. Should my friends be seen as guilty for the events of WWII? I don’t think so. However, the reality remains that the atrocities are part of their history. Discussing it, and differentiating guilt by association from guilt by action or guilt by belief is important in my view.

        That America had enslaved, tortured, displaced, and deliberately engineered the making of race an enduring issue is a fact. That it was also used by other countries over history does not, IMO, diminish the need of Americans today to face that history and not defend or minimize it. Especially given what America stands for. If we truly believe in every person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; then the errors of the past where so many were denied that, are ours to repair.

        For my part, I’m glad for the discussion, discomfiting as it might be in parts.
        Hugs
        Na’ama

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      • Thank you for such a thoughtful and kind response, N’ama. I have no desire to stir up an argument, and I’m glad you didn’t take it that way. If only all political discussion could be so reasonable!

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      • Thank you, Linda, and I’m glad this is how you understood my response. And … yes, I’m glad we can have reasonable discussions. Seems to me, those are the only kind worth having. 🙂 Have a lovely! Na’ama

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  5. Na’ama Y’kara,

    I’ve just read your long reply to Granonine. I’ve nothing left to say as a comment. I found it a sad commentary that the elders felt that the youth needed protection in his right of passage. Like armed guards needed at a Bar Mitzvah…come to think of it…Well done.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rochelle

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  6. Na’ama, I really felt the inner turmoil and change that was part of history for these elders, and the youth they celebrated. It’s a beautiful story, haunting because of the history we all know. The conversation that took place in the comments is really interesting! I appreciate your thoughtful approach.

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    • Thank you, Dawn! The story stands alone, but it obviously drinks for the well of my views and perceptions and understanding of history and its impact, along with the experiences I’ve lived and people I know had lived. History is part of what we all carry, be it with or without awareness of our role in remembering it and learning from it. If the conversation sparked thought, then I’m very glad for it. I don’t relish discomfort, but I hope that our blogs can be a safe place to explore both silliness and seriousness. Thank you for the comment and feedback! 🙂 Na’ama

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