There is an invincibility to youth. The belief in your indestructibility may be exactly what makes one indestructible. But this goes beyond wishful thinking. There is a conviction in youth, a righteousness, a fervor. It is the absolute knowledge that you have all of life before you. There are no road blocks, no toll booths, no construction zones. There is no possible likelihood that you will end up in a 40 car pile up or catapulted through the front windshield. Life is rich with options, opportunities and openings. It is an orchard ripe with low hanging fruit and everything is for the picking and eating. It is with living, the discrete passage of time and the accumulation of experiences that we realize life is dangerous; there are exits on the freeway you just never get off, knowing you risk your life idling at the traffic light. Over time, you understand that there are posted speed limits AND you adhere to them….willingly.
Is it fear of punishment, injury or penalty or a wisdom gained through having traversed the terrain and knowing the jeopardy. By sticking to the posted rules, you can predict arrival times, project possible scenarios and statistically limit the chances of catastrophe.
Ah…but do we not wish to have the bravado and brash courage of our youth, provided we were once eager to step forth into the world? There are some, that even in youth, were too full of fear to take chances. I was proud and a wee bit envious this evening standing among my oldest son’s 8th grade classmates. Envious because I REMEMBER that fierce belief that all of the world was before me and all it would take is me forging ahead and saddling up. I was excited for my son…and so many of his classmates…..to see them eager and hopeful and bold. And they carry with them this mantle of faith. While adolescence may be a time to shirk away from faith and its constructs, I knew that his Catholic education was woven far deeper and and more intricately than the mere tenets and dogmatic practices of The Church. I listened to these kids, boys and girls alike, speak the words, “I love you” openly and without hesitation. The comfort, safety and intimacy has given them all a gift far richer, a treasure far more abundant than I could have imagined. These kids know love. They know it. So, along with their brazen hunger to grasp life by the tail and rocket into the world, they are absolutely confident…nay, assured…that they are loved.