When the child passes through the initiation into adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person’s bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.
There is something inside each of us that knows we have a song, and we wish those we love would recognize it and support us to sing it. In some of my travels, I ask people to verbalize to a partner the one phrase they wish their parents had said to them as a child. Then the partner lovingly whispers it in their ear. This exercise goes very deep, and many significant insights start to click: how we all long to be love, acknowledged, and accepted for who we are.
In the African tribe, there is one other occasion when the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them. The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity.
When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another. A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly, your wholeness when you are broken, your innocence when you feel guilty, and your purpose when you are confused.