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Coming of Age

A Treasury of Poems, Quotations and Readings On Growing Up

Collected by Edward Searl 

Poetry and prose celebrating the rich and exciting journey from adolescence to adulthood. Perfect for bridging ceremonies, bar and bat mitzvahs, school graduations and coming-of-age celebrations of all kinds.

Passages from Coming of Age:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
─Henry David Thoreau

Today you can look back and see the “child you” off in the distance—no longer your life, but a memory. Your parents can look ahead and imagine the crossroads you will soon stand at as you wave goodbye and go off to college or to travel overseas or to pursue your dreams.
─Lynn M. Acquafondata

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
─Franklin D. Roosevelt

Adolescence is a time when we experience a spiritual hunger which is often misunderstood as restlessness, frustration, or anger. When we acknowledge this ripe sacred yearning, the teen years can be seen as a time of possibilities and expansion. Our sons and daughters are on the brink of discovering their vast potential and feel this calling, although it is often blurred and confused by the pull of the culture in which they live and the bodies that house their spirits.
─Mimi Doe

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.
—J. D. Salinger

Edward Searl, a minister for more than 25 years, is author of In Memoriam: A Guide to Modern Funeral and Memorial Services. He is the editor of a series of quotation collections that includes Bless This Child, We Pledge Our Hearts, Beyond Absence and In Praise of Animals, published by Skinner House Books.

For more information contact skinnerhouse @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

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