Numb, Dumb and Confirmed

methodist This year is my 12 year old daughter’s confirmation year. She has had confirmation classes all spring and next Sunday she will be confirmed. This morning on the way to class she told me that she didn’t want to go through the confirmation ritual. This is a girl who has been publically performing in dance recitals since she was 3. She’s involved in an improv group that does public performances. She’s done music recitals and performed with the school band. Either she is nervous about speaking in front of the congregation, or she is having second thoughts about committing to the Methodist church. Given her history, I have to think it is the latter.

When a white wine is over-chilled, it is said to be ‘numb.’ The temperature of the wine is such that the volatile compounds, the fruit and floral aromas of the wine can not longer be detected. All that’s left to experience is the acidity and the alcohol.

Full-bodied, complex red wines that need to age for several years before reaching maturity go through what is known as a ‘dumb phase.’ When the wine is first bottled, it’s fragrant with fruit. As it ages, the fruit aromas begin to fade, the tannins soften and the wine takes on a deep, rich complexity. But sometime during that process, the wine goes dumb. That in-between phase will be nothing but faded fruit, in a simple structure. Any similarity between this description and a real life teenager you may know is purely coincidental.

Confirmation is an important spiritual rite of passage. Though the ritual has to be scheduled, the spirituality of it really can’t be scheduled or insisted upon. Perhaps my outgoing performer is shutting down a bit as she matures. Or perhaps she just needs a little more time to warm up to the idea of confirmation. It may just be the numbing effect of nerves or it may be the maturing process of questioning her own spirituality. Next Sunday I’ll find out which one is confirmed; my daughter or my fears.

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