We celebrated the Quinceañera of Yaneth last night. She was so kind to invite us. Worship was full of music and dance. We were able to catch a tiny glimpse of why David wrote about dancing before the Lord. We were worshiping God and giving thanks for life. It was so much fun to worship with that level of Joy! The pastor’s message offered four pieces of advice:
- Always be thankful. Say “thank you”.
- Say “Please”
- Show Respect for others
- Honor God with your life
We all listened in as if hoping to hear a word of wisdom that would apply to our own lives. Our students may be wondering what the advice would be; our adults hopeful we haven’t missed anything important. And indeed, for every listening ear, these words point us in the direction of success no matter the road we travel. Many of the students on this mission have just graduated and several of them have already discerned their life call, or at least the first step of it. Others will hear as they step into next week, next year or the next decade. We all hear differently and usually at just the right time.
The Quinceañera is an ancient ritual established by the Mayas. It is a passage for a young girl from childhood to being a woman. This particular Quinceañera included four gifts:
- A doll to symbolize the end of childhood and playing with dolls; it is her last doll, he said, and one to keep, not with which to play.
- A watch was presented to symbolize and equip her to make decisions to be on time and to use her time wisely in daily life.
- A ring to symbolize her coming into womanhood as a child of God, and that she will always be a child of God.
- And finally, a pillow, not for her head but for her kneeling in prayer as she gives her life to honor Christ in all that she does each day.
After the time of worship we adjourned to the dining hall for food, dancing and games. And oh yes… CAKE! It was a wonderful celebration! Most impressive were our guys who stepped up as gentlemen and took their part in dancing with the birthday girl! Word of wisdom: teach your sons never to leave a birthday girl waiting for a dance partner on the dance floor! They may need to act on their feet in a moment of opportunity they did not anticipate.
I wonder….would a ritual of passage help the youth of our day? Would a moment of life you spend years preparing for and waiting for….would it help? Would it offer something of a gift to have a community gathered around you at that time to pray for you, laugh with you, celebrate with you, offer you wisdom and escort you to the next phase of life? I wonder.
This is my second Quinceañera to experience in Latin America. I am especially thankful now for the youth from our church to experience it. In this culture it is not specific to class, education, race, language or an event that may or may not happen in your life. If you are alive at age 15 and you are a girl, there is a celebration! It is the Latin American culture and everyone honors this time in a young girl’s life. It is a moment where everyone says, “God made you for a special purpose and it is time for you to take a big step into that purpose…that Life.”
Big steps are hard to take but there comes a time for all of us when we have to take them. It usually means leaving something behind so you can walk into a different place. What helps you make those life transitions? What would a ritual of passage look like in your life?