With this being graduation time, I got to thinking about when my sons were in high school and I was invited to speak at the Baccalaureate services preceding their graduation ceremonies. I recall sharing the tradition of a Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage.
According to Cherokee legend the boy’s father takes him deep into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone for the night. The boy is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the perils of the night, the boy is recognized by the tribe as a man.
The son cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. As he sits upon the stump he can hear all kinds of noises in the forest. His mind imagines that wild beasts must surely be all around him. He fears that maybe even some enemy might jump him and do him harm.Throughout the night the whistle of the wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but the boy sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could prove that he was a man.
Finally, after a horrifyingly long night the sun finally appeared and the boy removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. The father had been there all night protecting his son from harm.
This story reminds me that as Christians, we too are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is there, sitting on the stump beside us watching over us. When trouble comes we don’t have to worry, fret or fear because we know that God our father and hopefully others from our communities of faith will be right there with us.