Rites of Passage & Community
By Mike Bodkin, ROP Director
Life is rooted in a matrix of community relationships, communities of both the living and non-living (minerals, water, soil, sun) creating a complex network that supports our human existence along with that of all life. Everything is dependent on the health of our planet–for water, air and sustenance. As Corbin Harney titled one of his books, it’s The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Mother Earth.
Initiation and rites of passage link individuals to their communities, fostering a sense of service and care for others, and beyond that to the earth community. These practices have always been done in the context of relationships. In the Mohawk community, when young men/women go out on Vision Quest, the Uncles/ Aunts stay nearby to pray for them, and welcome them back when they return. There’s an immediate sense, after they’ve come back, of stepping into a new adult role, one that calls for self-sacrifice. Contrast this with the mainstream culture’s focus on egotism and self-service.
We have long recognized the importance of building community in doing our work, and have incorporated many practices that foster close bonds among participants in the field. People invariably talk about this community as supportive and encouraging-fostering courage to find their truth and live their vision. While there’s always an individual, heroic aspect in returning home to begin the Vision Quest of Your Life, this phase of Incorporation again reminds us of the need for community. Some people have networks and relationships that will readily support this part of the journey-people to whom they can tell their story, places where they can begin to demonstrate their gifts. For others, though, the challenge is to build and nurture a set of relationships that will allow the story of their sacred journey to be manifested.