Tuesday, May 18, 2010

pomp and circumstance

Over the next several weeks, many of us will take part in graduations, parties, celebrations marking a major life change for young people who are important to us.  For some of us, it will be our child or grandchild, our niece or nephew, our cousin who walks across the stage.  For others, it might be a kid down the street, someone we taught in Sunday School, someone who mows our lawn or delivers our newspaper.

For me, it is kids that I have had the amazing good fortune and unbelievable joy to watch grow into such talented, wise, wonderful young people right on the cusp of adulthood.  Two of them I cradled in my arms as I baptized them, others were part of confirmation classes with these two, all and each has blessed me beyond   words I could ever offer to them in thanks.

And as they prepare to go off into that world which they cannot wait to enter, I know that I will continue to keep in touch with them, will continue to pray for them, will want to continue to be a part of their lives in some small way as the years come and go.  I look forward to college graduations, to weddings, to baptisms of their children, to other parties and celebrations to share with them.

Yet, as I do, I wonder about some of the other kids who will walk across those stages in the coming weeks, in the community in which I live, as well as in other communities. 

I wonder about the ones who prepare to enter a world which absolutely terrifies them.  They have struggled all through school, giving it their best, but for whatever reasons (environment, lack of support at home, never learning the basics as easily and confidently as their peers) will not be going off to college, will not be starting out on that road which can lead to success, may not be able to survive.

What about the kid who is handed that piece of paper which will have no value in the dead-end job, requiring no skills but a strong back, which awaits him?  Who will celebrate with him?

What about the young girl whose foolish choice to look for love and acceptance from the wrong person seemingly ties her down to raising a child, even while she is remains a child in so many ways.  Who throws a party for her?

What about the kids who walk off the stage, who leave the auditorium knowing that they will be heading home to that neighborhood with domestic violence residing in every home, with drug dealers setting up their kiosks on every corner, with every person they encounter on the shadowed streets willing to demonstrate how meaningless human life is to them with the simple pressure of a finger on the trigger of a gun?  Who prays for them?

Who, indeed, if not me?

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

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