First rite of passage: the language of symbols

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Japanese “Girl Day” doll balancing the buckets of life.

I found her on Ebay and she was absolutely beautiful. A Japanese “Girl’s Day” doll, bearing the face of a sweet child while hefting two watery buckets. She looked like a silken interpretation of the scales of justice. The doll was managing both youth and adulthood as well as balancing both beauty and hard work, all on her kimono-graced shoulders.

That’s her. I thought. That doll is my daughter at 14. Young. Determined. And yet, trying to figure out her life still blushing with the pink hues of childhood. I knew that when choosing this special gift, it painted a picture, created a symbol, of where she might be right now in her life. I also kept in mind when looking for that special something, her great admiration for all things Japanese. I knew this would be a winner.

On the day of the rite of passage event, along with the girl doll, there were also other symbols that gestured toward my daughter’s own uniqueness and the theme of “coming of age”: a collection of beads to string together “the stars and moons” of her life, a candle moving from room to room to gently reminding us all of the ongoing presence of light in our lives, and a swath of diaphanous fabrics draping around shelves and furniture, subtley nudging us toward thoughts of mystery.

A well-given, or well-placed symbol is a thing of beauty. It does not demand explanation, but when given, it brings rich layers of meaning into its form, shape, presence. The small acts of placing thoughtful gifts of your own awareness into the path of others, are offerings that are deep and lasting.

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Beads to string the “moon and stars” of your life.

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