The Holy Bible exemplifies such stories of rites of passage in the wilderness by which such a threshold is crossed and one returns with the gifts of teaching, service, and healing for others.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness . . . (Matthew 4:1)
Following his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus went into the desert for forty days and forty nights to fast and pray for vision. He was tested to extremes and returned to his people with the vision and clarity of his ministry and teachings.
And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And He wrote upon the tables . . . (Exodus 34:28)
Moses fasted and prayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights seeking guidance and vision. He returned to his people with the Ten Commandments.
Elijah also quested and fasted for vision forty days.
From this vision while fasting Elijah also received power to anoint a prophet in his stead and bestow upon him a double portion of the grace he possessed, and to mount up above the earth in mid-air. (2 Kings 2:9-11)
Whether in the lands of North America or the lands of the biblical stories, the desire for initiation and rites of passage experiences to provide escort through the thresholds of our lives is consistent.
The experience of conscious rebirth in rhythm with the spirit of the land provided me the ritual necessary to understand how to carry my song with grace and joy. ~ Student, age 28
I have a story to tell you. But before I tell this story, it's important to know that the point of any good story is not that it be understood; for if a story is understood, then it has nothing more to teach you and it is "dead." Stories are living and breathing entities. The point of any good story is to notice where you enter the story, or where you leave the story, or where your attention stays fixed in the story even though story moves forward. It is in these threshold moments that you will find the coded messages for your own healing and awakening. You came into this world with specific gifts and the sufficient power to deliver these gifts. It is only you that possess these particular gifts. If these gifts remain unacknowledged and undelivered, then the life you live will be one that is not entirely your own.
So . . . as they say, "once upon a time" or "once below a time;" or "once standing next to what you think is time" . . . there was a village. This village existed a long, long time ago, in a place older than the pine needles on the trees, a place far, far from here, further east than the sun and further west than the moon. In that time and in that place there was a village. In that village there was a circle of warriors standing shoulder to shoulder facing outward around a lodge. Within that lodge there was a circle of grandmothers facing inward and within that circle of grandmothers there was a woman bringing new life into her village.
As this little one made its passage into the village, sounds of chanting, singing, deep breathing, screaming, drumming, rattling, prayers of gratitude to the ancestors and prayers of gratitude for this new life, were heard pouring forth from the lodge in the way in which chanting, singing, deep breathing, screaming, drumming, rattling, and prayers of gratitude were often heard in that time when a women was bringing new life into her village. As lightning touched the earth, the cries of this child could be heard in the circle.
This child grew up sitting around council fires late into the night, listening to stories from the elders. She heard many stories of a time in the village when there was much laughter, ceremony and ritual, singing, feasting, dancing, deep connection to the ancestors, and gratitude among the people. The old ones spoke of this time, with a longing in their eyes, as that of the "singing stone."
As one moon crossed over into the next, he noticed that a dark cloud had descended upon the village. People began to forget who they were, where they had come from, and why they were here. Most of them could no longer hear the guiding voices of their ancestors echoing deep in their bones. The anguish of this forgetting had shadowed itself among the people in fear, anger, and sadness.
As she grew to that place of betwixt and between . . . no longer a child and not yet in the land of adults, she decided that if she could find this singing stone and return it to her people, the sun would again shine and the sounds of laughter, singing, dancing, ceremony and ritual, gratitude, and connection to the ancestors would once again be present within the village.
He went to his grandmother and grandfather and said: "Grandmother . . . Grandfather, I will go in search for this singing stone and return it to our people so they can remember who they are, their connection to the ancestors and the entire web of life."