A Time for Roots Rituals and Rites of Passage

“When a man’s life becomes an adventure, the whole thing takes on a transcendent purpose when he releases control in exchange for the recovery of the dreams in his heart.” – John Eldredge

I clearly remember the day my dad said to me, “Brian, you’re driving a load of wheat to the elevator, today.” There was a lot packed in that one sentence for a young farm boy. It meant that at the age of 12, for the very first time, my dad trusted me to drive the tractor and wagon containing several hundred bushels of wheat to the grain elevator four miles through the country. I’d never done this before by myself. It was a big deal!

It was a 20-minute drive on country roads, then into town, then maneuvering with other farmers to pull their heavy loads on the large scales to test, weigh and dump the grain. This was a rite of passage that conveyed trust and responsibility, as well as bringing great freedom. It was one of the steps that a farm boy took towards becoming a man.

Every boy needs to have roots, rituals and rites of passage. Roots ground him to family, history, and relationships to significant people. Rituals create fond memories, significant life experiences that he will look forward to. Rites of passage help him build his self-confidence, is capable of taking on more important experiences and the realization that he’s becoming a man. Jeff reflected on what it was like to spend time on the farm where I grew up with my parents.

Jeff: I had the opportunity as young boy to learn to shoot a gun, drive a go-kart, and eventually even drive a car way before I was 16 years old. Grandma Becker always had her homemade Oreo blizzards waiting for us in the freezer. Grandpa Becker always took us on tractor rides. He and my uncle Craig made this little wagon that held six kids. Grandpa pulled us all over the barn yard with his little tractor.

We’d have huge bonfires and cook hot dogs and S’mores. Fourth of July on the farm always included a trip to watch the big parade, complete with the high school marching band, jeeps and antique tractors, and a real patriotic Americana.

The parade was always followed by a great cookout where I would help Grandpa grill the meat. My favorite year was 2010, when Grandpa was honored by being selected to be the parade Grand Marshall. When I asked him why he was selected, he said, “I think I’m the oldest veteran that’s not in the nursing home.” He always had a great sense of humor.

Brian: Another favorite pastime on the farm for both Jeff and I was just sitting out under the stars at the edge of the lawn or sometimes we’d walk out into the field where there were no lights other than the pole lights from other farms, where the closest neighbor was a mile away. And no planes, no sirens, or cars. To be quiet, to be together, alone, without any need to say anything…just be.

Notice above how Jeff described his experiences on the farm. There were things that we always did, and we both looked forward to. The activities and the meals were always done together, and with as much time out in nature as we could muster. Jeff’s freedom to explore the outdoors allowed him to push boundaries and take risks that provided excitement and rite of passage experiences. We also made it a high priority to invite other friends to the farm so that we could share these special times with them. 

Dads, this Fourth of July weekend please be aware of how much time matters and how much your son wants to spend time with you. It’s never too late to establish rituals and rites of passage that will develop healthy roots for you and our son.

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