Friday, October 14, 2011

Tonight, the 12-year-olds Embodied Something Greater

This is a post-script to my post about our son's 12th birthday. I'm writing this upstairs in  our bedroom. Downstairs are five 12-year-old boys, watching "Dawn of the Dead" and eating an inordinate amount of candy they bought at the local convenience store and at the Rite Aid downtown.

What just happened moves me deeply. One of their friends, who has been my son's friend since preschool, just left. C. became deeply troubled by the movie. He called his parents on his cell and told them he wanted to go home. They were on a date and told him they would come home soon. Then C. headed up the stairs and knocked on my bedroom door. "There is no way I can sleep here tonight," he told me. "I am terrified."  His parents said to head home and they would be back in a few minutes.

And you know what? Instead of making the scared newly 12-year-old boy walk a block home in the dark, imagining flesh-eating zombies in shadows, every single boy offered to walk him back to his house.

These boys all carry with them a sweetness and a Beauty I did not expect. A few boys couldn't make it tonight. The other boys explained to me that one boy had a weekend with his (divorced) dad, and that another was celebrating Sukkot. Each boy is leading a different life, and yet their lives are deeply connected to one another's.  They "get" each other in ways we adults have forgotten.

Ours is a small town, a place where people from every faith and no faith live side by side. On many blocks, Orthodox Jews live next to families with two moms. Most of my son's friends are not from church-going families or from families who are part of any faith community. And yet...and yet....

 God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
 then walks with us silently out of the night.

 These are words we dimly hear:

 You, sent out beyond your recall,
 go to the limits of your longing.
 Embody me.

 Flare up like flame
 and make big shadows I can move in.

 Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
 Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
 Don't let yourself lose me.

 Nearby is the country they call life.
 You will know it by its seriousnes.

 Give me your hand.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~


  1. GREAT story. Wish all kids had those kinds of friends.

  2. So very touching! The character of those boys is a good example to many.

  3. Oh my gosh - this made me cry, how beautiful. What a story and what a great gift of life and friendship.

    (Speaking of which, I wish that we could have lunch again today!!)

  4. @Fran: Thanks for reading. And yes, it would be fun to do lunch again...

  5. This is so lovely.
    How great to see such support in a group of boy friends. It isn't like our culture encourages such closeness and understanding. Good for them to rise above!

  6. With so many horrific stories that involve bullying, this is so refreshing to read. It's the way children should live, with kindness. Sadly, so many fail to value the friendships they have.

    Thank you for sharing this, Allison!