I wanted to share the story of Jasper’s ceremony last weekend with those of you who couldn’t make it.
It was a really fun day. Jasper greeted everyone by putting animal cards on their backs for a guessing game. We gathered for a thanksgiving circle. Then the crew of “auntees and uncles” all worked together to bow drill a coal for Jasper. We sang him off with a song. Jasper and I had gone on a hike the previous week to collect a fire tending stick. He took this with him. Tristan (teen) went with Jasper and his tinder bundle out to the back yard to light his fire, then Tristan rejoined the group inside the house. Jasper stayed alone in the back yard, tending his own fire.
Meanwhile in the house everyone else worked on making individual drawn symbols on rawhide discs, to be used later for the welcome back. Suzanne and I made 3 separate visits to Jasper. The first was to recognize his past. We did this by sitting with him and showing him photos in an album, from birth to present. The second visit was to recognize his competencies. Jasper had previously collected a turkey tail fungus on a hike that he really liked. I made this into a necklace. We gave him a glass bead for each of the main competencies that we recognized in him. The third visit was for the future and giving him gifts of responsibility. I had made a knife, which I gave him, his first knife. Suzanne gave him an empty photo album, and also a small wooden chicken to represent the coop and chickens that we have promised him (once we move to a place where we can have them).
Then there was the welcome back ceremony. Tristan and Montserrat (important teens in Jasper’s life) went out to supervise Jasper’s putting out of the fire and cleaning up the area. When he was done, they presented him with a shirt to recognize that we now saw him differently. It was a shirt that we made from a tree that Jasper had drawn awhile back.
Tristan and Montserrat led Jasper, with fire tending stick in hand, thru the fence gate and next door to the yard of our friend Andree and into the middle of a circle. We sang him a song that Jim and Joni (fellow band members with me) wrote:
We knew you as a baby
With fists and feet so tiny
We saw the snow white nappy
That wrapped your little hiney
You are the sweetest apple
Of yer Mom and Daddy’s eyes
Your smile can match the brightest
Of the bluest morning skies
Now that you are older
You always lend a hand
You’re ready, willin’ and able
For playin’ in the band
With a number countin’ noggin
You’re a whiz a dominoes
You’re upright, kind, and honest
From your head down to your toes
There will never be another like you
For snappin’ on the bones
Or roamin’ o’er the wildlands
Skipping from stone to stone
If ever you’re in trouble or funny circumstance
You’ll always have a spot on stage
With Jimmy Chickenpants
Yes, forever you’ll have a spot on stage
With Jiiiiiimmmmmmmmmy Chickeneeeeeeenpannnnnts!!!
Suzanne and I then then tied strings from Jasper’s fire stick to each of the people in the circle. One by one they voiced their words about what it meant to them to be connected to Jasper while tying on their rawhide disks with drawings that symbolized their connection to Jasper. Once they were tied on, Jasper was like the center of a bike wheel with multicolored spokes radiating outward. He slowly turned his stick and wound everyone in close to him.
Then it was food time. Way back in the spring Jasper had planted basil to tend especially for this ceremony. He previously made pesto out of it and also helped make the pizza which he served to all the guests. After food it was time for the gift blanket. Jasper helped collect/make all the gifts on the blanket. There were turkey tail fungus earrings, the tree art shirts, apple butter, and salve.
After everyone departed we went for a kids playday at the beach, a walk to the monarch grove, and some boogie boarding. We ending the day before bed reading the emails and letters that family and friends had sent to him.
This was one of the best of days for me as a parent. It means so very much to me having you all in our lives, and I know if means a lot to Jasper.