OUR MIDWEEK MEDITATION: RITUALS
Hair brings one’s self-image into focus; it is vanity’s proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices. – Shana Alexander
The Princess turned 12 the other day. “Mum,” she said. “My life is just going too fast.”
I laughed. “You should see it from my end.”
She looked so depressed I tried very hard to be sympathetic: “Never mind,” I said.
“You’re not even a teenager yet. Twelve this year and 13 next, that’s how the numbers go.”
“Thirteen!” She positively bounced upright. “That’s right. Everybody has that big party when they turn 13 – you know, it’s like turning 18 or 21, but there’s a special name for it.”
“There is?” Plenty of things sprung to mind – the start of the highway to hell, the teenage tunnel, the flouncing years, but not anything specifically connected to 13.
“That Bar Mitzvah thing,” she said.
Right. My no-religion daughter wants the religious ceremony Jewish boys have when they turn 13 for her party next year.
Notwithstanding that living in the Byron Shire has enabled her to study an eclectic mix of Bahai, Buddhism and even Catholicism during her school years, turning male and Jewish, not to mention learning the Torah, seems a tall order.
But it did start me thinking about rituals connected with age, and of course, as well as the Bar Mitzvah, there is the Bat Mitzvah for Jewish girls when they turn 12.
Both of them are a rite of passage – the recognition that instead of just studying the Torah, the young adolescents are now capable of understanding it.
Catholics of course, have their confirmation, but what do we, those of us who have put conventional religions aside, have to celebrate the arrival of the teenage years?
Somehow the English ritual of going from Brownies to Girl Guides and leaping over a giant mushroom with Akela and Brown Owl on each side of you doesn’t seem to quite cut the mustard.
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