Last week, I (Ryan) continued to put Katie on the spot during our drive to the coast and asked, “If you had to summarize in a few words why wilderness rite-of-passage is important right now, what would you say?”
Katie: I think that rite-of-passage is important right now because the world needs more initiated adults, people who know themselves, who live with purpose and courage to make the world better, share their gifts, and to lead and mentor others from a heart-centered place. (See previous post, “What is an Initiated Adult?”
Ryan: We have some rituals that in a way serve as transition markers. How are wilderness rites-of-passage different than, let’s say, commencement ceremonies?
Katie: Well, part of it is you’re following an individual calling, a seed of longing inside. Whereas a commencement ceremony may sometimes have a feeling of being perfunctory. It’s a rite of passage in the sense that many people go through it, and yes, it can be consciously chosen, like many things in our culture can be—but the key is the consciousness we bring to it, the intention from within. We encounter ourselves on a deep level. Another aspect is you are being held in a circle where your heart-story is being deeply listened to and mirrored back to you, which can be very powerful.
Ryan: Why go to the mountains or the high desert?
Katie: One reason is the wildness, the natural world is always being fully itself—the trees, the plants, the animals, the weather—and that’s what we need: to be more fully ourselves. And when we come into relationship with wild nature, there’s a mirror there, an I-Thou relationship, that I think is harder to find in the urban human-made environments. It provides an opportunity to meet an Otherness, and by doing so, parts of ourselves that maybe had been dormant can come online.