Rite of Passage (for my son)
If there is anything that will accompany you in all of your travels it is free will. It will continue its inexhaustible journey exceeding the life your parents, your schooling and your vocational pursuits, dominating your every thought and decision. It will control your destiny beyond any external force or suggestion that is placed upon your pillow. It will neither guarantee success nor doom you to failure. But it will place all manner of excuse, blame or alibi at your feet to be crushed by its unyielding demand that the freedom to choose is a man’s game to be played only by those who are willing to accept the consequences of its exercise.
And what of God? Is it the will of man to be presented the option of paradise versus eternal damnation? For who would dream up such a choice? It would seem that it is no choice at all for the former is laden with streets of gold while the latter summons visions of burning flames and the wish to perish only to be laughed at by a being so diabolical that he exclaims, “And you wanted earthly riches so badly that you gave up streets of gold for the right to beg me to finish you off!” And yet the choice exists in the vacuum between mere rumor and fact; fact that cannot be measured but only sensed or felt. And as you are bathed in the witness of those with the spirit burning from within, you find that your mind must choose its path. And though you are free to choose you will find that the choice is not solely a matter of belief but a matter of self-determination for the choices that you must make about God are not a matter of a single affirmation or denial but a daily choice of good versus evil. And you will be confused by the power of evil because it does not reveal itself readily; instead it will tempt you beyond all that which you have ever known. And you will then know the choice is not one of saying yes and then departing the witness stand; it will be a choice that will become who you are as a human. And yet if God does not exist the choice remains in how you interact in your daily walk amongst those who do believe knowing that some will try to make you feel less than holy because of a particular certainty that you do not possess and some will attempt to save you because they believe they are commanded to concern themselves with your salvation.
And what of truth? For it is said that an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind, yet you will know that truth may also bring pain, punishment, scorn, estrangement or confusion. To tell the truth no matter the consequence is to say that you stand alone in principle or in condemnation for your acts. It is to say you have no friend who will be protected for his actions or spared what you deem to be real. To tell the truth no matter the consequence is to say you will risk all that you have worked for by raising the ire of those with the power to destroy you or to crush the dreams of innocents who are to be told that their beliefs are those of mere fantasy. To tell the truth is to question everything that you encounter including the God who you have decided to accept or reject for what you have learned about him may be second-hand from charlatans or from a book that you barely understand or from an unbeliever full of scorn or from a believer who swears that miracles occur in this very age. To tell the truth is to never accept what it is that cannot be proven even as you are asked to accept that which cannot be proven as eternal truth.
And what of fear? Can you choose not to be afraid? Is it a matter of only being afraid of imminent danger or of being afraid of possibilities or differences in others? Is it a matter of settling in behind walls, either real or imagined, to surround yourself with like-minded fools, separating yourself even further from understanding and compassion towards those who are different than yourself? For any man who resists the ideas of another before they are fully comprehended or who rejects another because they do not believe exactly as you or who rejects another who believes things you never considered because they lived in another land or who rejects another solely because a flag or a book has been branded as the truth without question becomes merely a mark for those who wish to exploit his mind for their own gain.
And what of love? The love of family is forever. It will sustain you, define you, remind you, inspire you… but even though the blood of your past is always present you must find yourself and remember that a legacy can be uplifting or destructive. And as you become a man you will find love in the eyes of a woman. And she will become your life as your family steps to the periphery. And you will think of flowers and birds and meadows covered with dew as passion overtakes your sense of everything except ravishing her with your life and your body…. But what of separation and conflict… what if the mystery of her heart is revealed to be a horror story so deep that you are consumed with the rage of a man who has lost his mind? Can you say yes without the assurance of forever? Will you know in your heart who it is that you entrust with everything that is dear to you? Your goals? Your dreams? Will you know her before it is too late to close the door to your heart?
And what of you? Do you know who you are and what you will die for? What you will stand alone for? What sacrifices you will make? Will you know what life is about and find a reason to live and not to consume? Will you look to the past and anticipate the future to guide your present? Will you understand the forces that guide you or will you trade free will for chance and wait for fate to choose your path? Knowing that destiny is driven by your hand and fate can be driven by neglect or apathy, will you wake up each morning with an eye on what it is that defines you as a man? Will you live to do good or to do evil? Will you understand that each day is the day to begin your life anew? To make the changes that need to be made and to only use the past as a guide to learning and not as an anchor of unworthiness?
You are loved my son and what you are IS my son and I only ask these questions of you because of my love for you. For I cannot live your life and I do not ask you live your life for me. That is for you and I hope you choose wisely.
I do love you more than you will ever know.
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