UU World asked readers to tell us about the most meaningful rite of passage they had experienced.
The Rev. David Pyle, district executive of the UUA’s Joseph Priestley District, writes: “Joining the military had both real world and ritual significance. I went to bed one night in the room I had spent my childhood in, and the next night in a barracks room almost a thousand miles away. I then experienced a transformation in my personal identity and sense of purpose. I made a series of commitments to something larger than my own self and interest. And I began on a path that grew my sense of leadership and responsibility. When I came ‘home’ for the first time six months later for Christmas, I was a different person, and it was no longer ‘home’ in the same way it had been. Basic Training marked a clear boundary between the responsibilities I held in childhood, and the new, expanded responsibilities I held as an adult.”
The Rev. Ralph Roberts, who attends Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Chandler, Arizona, writes: “At 13 I realized I was gay and [told] my parents. . . . [M]y mother presented me with a set of bone china. I think she was responding to a sense of the need for a rite of passage. A wedding was probably the most readily accessible ritual form that she could imagine that also tied in to what I had shared with them about who I was and what I wanted for myself as I got older. Lacking some familiar ‘your son is gay’ ritual, my mom fell back on older more familiar rites of passage, and that is how I ended up with the beginnings of a dowry or bride price before I could even drive.”
Other readers mentioned having a croning ceremony, becoming a parent, joining a UU congregation, being ordained, and voting for the first time.
Share your own rite of passage experience. Leave a comment below.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.