Thursday, August 25, 2011

The two boys... (day 4)

The day arrived when Nathan and his family were to leave. Their supplies were all packed into their wagon. Mother had made sure they all had their best clothes. It wasn't very often the entire family went on such a long trip from home. The had a couple of ranch hands staying behind to tend to the animals. Father knew his mother and sisters didn't trust trains, so they were taking this journey the long way- riding, walking and camping outside under the stars for a couple days. Nathan loved the thought. His birthday would be spent on the trail with all the people he loved and who loved him back.

The next couple days went by mostly uneventfully. On Nathan's birthday, they'd made camp on the side of the road to celebrate. Grandfather, Father and him went hunting in the early morning to go fishing for the birthday meal. Nathan's favorite meal was fish roasted in the coals of the fire, rice, and beans. His mother always made this meal for his birthday. Just thinking about it made his mouth water. Tonight would be his rite of passage ceremony with all the men of the family. (Father had made sure of this by letting them all know where they were going to camp that night.) He would be considered a man in his community. His tutors had been working with him to be able to quote the different commandments and names of honorable men from scripture. He was so excited. The day progressed with lots of hugs, laughter and food as more family arrived. It seemed as though everyone had been invited to both his ceremony and the get together in the next town over. Nathan kept hearing whispers among his elders about the "seer" and  the "man-with-the connections".

When evening arrived and everyone had had their fill of the meal, Grandfather stood up to address everybody as the patriarch of the family. Nathan was bursting with excitement and nerves. He sincerely hoped he wouldn't mess up when it was his turn to speak.

"Family, we are here to celebrate my grandson's coming of age. He has proven himself a hard-worker, a good student, a trustworthy friend, and obedient son to his father and to me, his Grandfather. He has been faithful to the Lord's house since birth. We his family are ready to see this youngin' become a man. Nathan would come here, please." Nathan rose from his seat closest to the fire and shakily walked toward his grandfather. He looked over the small crowd. His father had his arm around his sniveling mother. Tears were welling up in his Father's eyes.

"Son, it is your 14th birthday. It wasn't that long ago when I held you for the first time. You've always been a child of strength and full of heart. Do you know what tonight means for your life?" Nathan nodded. "You will be considered a man by all who see you. I commission you to be a man of high moral character, honorable in all your dealings with young and old, and be kind to those around you. I, your Grandfather, wish you to remember who you are and whom you represent." Nathan looked around at the faces looking back at them. He would do what Grandfather asked of him. It'd be easy...

"I, Nathan, represent the I AM, my family, my community, and myself. I vow to honor and obey the wisdom of those who've gone before me like Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Noah and Ruth. I will do my best to keep the Lord's commands. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God he is one. No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don't bow down to them and don't serve them because I am God, your God, and I'm a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I'm unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments. No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with the irreverent use of his name. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. Honor your father and mother so that you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you. Do not murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbor. No lusting after your neighbor's house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don't set your heart on anything that is your neighbor's." 

Everyone stood at this point. Grandfather prayed over Nathan and poured oil over him. It dripped down his nose and off his ears. He was a man.  He felt the burden of it suddenly. When the prayers were over, a shout rose from those on the road side. "Nathan, Go and join those who have gone before you in manhood." His mother scurried to his side. He would have to change before he could greet his guests. The party would soon end for they all were to go meet the seer tomorrow.

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