In October, (yes I know it’s almost 10 months away), my son turns thirteen. I’m thinking about doing something that will probably mortify him, mystify friends, and may even tick off a few people.
I want to give him a Bar Mitzvah.
OK, not a Bar Mitzvah, exactly; we aren’t Jewish, and a central tenet of our religion holds that he will not be a “Son of the Law” – he will instead one day be freed from the law. Yet, as with so many things, we can find the roots of “right” ways to do things in the Jewish religious traditions.
Stick with me here.
I’m a big believer in most of the concepts in John Eldredge’s book Wild At Heart. Especially the idea that what drives us as adults is a “wound” we received from our fathers, usually in the early teen years. Unlike Eldredge, I believe it’s true for women as well as men. I am convinced that who we are is shaped by our relationships with our mothers in early childhood, and our relationships (or lack of them) with our fathers as teens/young adults.
None of us quite measure up, we are all rejected by our fathers in one way or another. It could be a small but profound rejection, or outright abandonment. From then on, we are forever wandering the earth like Esau, desperately craving the blessing that should have been ours.
I truly believe this with all of my heart.
There is a profound,exponential power in the act of a father standing up before friends and family and saying, “This is my son [daughter], in whom I am well pleased.” I think that such a moment has the ability to completely alter the course of a child’s life.
Wouldn’t a simple, quiet blessing be enough? I don’t think so. I think humans have an inner need for the profundity of ritual; it’s found in every culture in the world.
Yes, my kids will have confirmation at school and at church. But, once again, it’s not the same thing. Yes, they will go through the rituals of becoming spiritually adults (or accountable, if you’re a Baptist), and these things are vitally important, but equally important, if not more, is The Blessing.
I cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t spent most of it trying to please my father (most of the time doing it subconsciously). To have had his blessing. What if I had gone forth into the world, knowing I already had it?
Now, I know I must be careful. There is a strong possibility that I could highly offend my Jewish friends, and I want to design this celebration in a way that is culturally/religiously sensitive. nm, you’ve got a year to set me straight. I want the spirit of the whole ritual and celebration, not necessarily the substance. I do not want to run the risk of making a mockery of a very holy tradition.
Also, I have to be careful NOT to undermine the central tenets of my own religion. Even with a blessing, it’s very important to me to teach my kids that they will never be whole without a relationship with Jesus Christ. I know many Christian friends who think a Bar Barakah (Son of The Blessing) is a kind of heresy. I know I’ll need to be careful.
Sometimes, I think about what I am planning and wonder if I’m off my rocker. And, I may be. But I’m also dead serious.