The Cherokee indian tribe has an interesting way of making their sons into men. Legend tells that a young man, age twelve or thirteen, would be taken by his father into the depths of the wilderness forest, far from anyone or anything. There, his father would blindfold him and sit him on a stump. The father would then instruct his young son that no matter what he heard or what he felt throughout the night, he was forbidden to remove the blindfold and under no circumstances permitted to leave the stump. He was to sit and endure whatever might come until he felt the warmth of the morning sunshine through his blindfold. Then his father would be back to get him. The father would leave, and the night would soon fall.
The wilderness can be a frightening place, especially for a young boy. Throughout the night the boys would hear animals, wind, and other frightening things in the dark woods…things that toy with the senses. The simple fear of the unknown was what often stirred them the most in their trial. But finally when the night ceased and the sunlight penetrated the blindfold, upon removing it the young man would find that his father had been silently seated near him – guarding him attentively all the night long. They were then instructed not to tell any of the younger boys what had happened. It is from this experience that the young men would not only learn the importance of bravery and perseverance, but also the true meaning of manhood and the protective essence of fatherhood. This profound analogy is a perfect example of the love of our Heavenly Father.
When we were spirit children in the pre-mortal life, the time came for us to undergo a test to prove ourselves men (and women) of valor. Though I’m sure we had an idea of what this wilderness called Earth would be like, we didn’t quite know exactly what to expect – only that it would be a challenge. As we passed through the veil, we were given a blindfold. It is then life itself, compared to the night in the wilderness, that makes up our test. And through all the turmoil, fear, unknowing, discomfort, pain, and darkness – when the time comes and the sun shines on our faces through our blindfolds, I believe we will remove it only to discover also that our Heavenly Father was right there watching over us at every moment, guarding us attentively. The love that God the Father and Jesus Christ have for us is infinite and perfect, and because of this test, our earthly experience, we can learn the true meaning of our existence in the eternal spectrum.