This hard to read but oh so sweet story is from a passionate man-maker, Colin Irish. He shares one brief moment on a rite of passage weekend run by men like Colin for boys. The story gives us all a peek into the work his group is doing initiating boys into manhood. On reading it, you'll begin to understand why, once exposed to this work, boy’s and men’s lives are changed for ever.
He stood in front of me shaking slightly. I noticed the little tremors in his hands. He had arrived the night before wearing impressive black make-up, but the events of the day had wiped most of it off his face. Some of it was on the sleeve of his gray hoody. He tried to keep his face blank. I could tell it was taking a lot of effort. He looked nothing like the men I'd seen come to this kind of circle before. However, he was standing up in front of everyone, as brave as any one of those men. And he was 14 years old.
"What's your new initiation name?" I asked. "Wolf," he answered. I nodded. "It fits.” I saw his mouth try to curve into a smile, but he put the blank face back on in an instant. He was good at that – a valuable survival skill for his life most likely. "Wolf, tell me your story.” He took his time getting started. Everyone waited as if silently telling him that he was important. I could tell it had been a long time since he'd gotten a message like that. He told his story - his father gone, his mother checked out, and his own attempts to stop the pain. It's a story more common than I am comfortable with, which is why I was standing here with him. He worked his way through it and got to the end. I helped some, but not very much. As the mask melted away, all of his struggles were right there just under the surface. There was no need to dig.
"That's really clear, Wolf. I get why you're sad and angry. It took lots of courage to tell that story and it takes lots of courage to live it." "Yeah," he said as he wiped his eyes. The last of the make-up smeared over his face giving him a truly wolf-like visage. "Is there anyone here that would like to bless Wolf's courage?” Everyone came forward. The process took 5 minutes, but the honoring and blessing lasted for 25 minutes.
Working with boys is different than working with men. For the boys, the traumas of youth are happening now. There hasn't been enough time to hide them beneath layers of denial and unconsciousness. Just observe how most teens dress and you can see it all displayed on the surface. Also, the magnitude of a small course correction has much more impact for an adolescent than for a man. I wonder what would have been different for me if I had a circle of men and peers hear my true story...and then bless me for who I am. What would be different for you right now, if a circle of men had stood with you back then?
Threshold Passages, Inc. (TPI) needs men like you who are willing to stand in the circle with boys - men willing to honor and bless.
Reclaiming Your Teenage Fire - Mentor Training - June 8-9, 2007
Boy's Rites of Passage Adventure Weekend (RPAW) - August 9-12, 2007
TPI RPAW Coordinator