Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 RSV

It’s graduation season again—something I’ve made an object of prayer ever since my sons’ schoolmate was killed in a horrible accident at a pre-graduation party. Two days before graduation that year, we went to a funeral. I’ll never forget the shock and sorrow on those young faces.

This year, my prayers have special fervency. My oldest grandson is among the graduates.

We watch this young bird teetering on the edge of the nest, flapping his wings, eager to soar into the open sky. As all families do, we feel pride in his achievements, joy in the blooming promise of his life and a shiver of fear.

Years ago, I read the story of a wildlife biologist who was following a nest of golden eagles in Texas. As he watched one day, one of the adolescents plummeted toward the ground in a full stoop, diving at a high rate of speed with wings folded back. To his horror, the bird didn’t pull up in time. There was a cloud of dust and feathers.

The young eagle was dead.

We who have made the transition to adulthood know it holds serious, sometimes deadly, risk. Dangers and predators wait to gobble up the foolish and unwary. That’s downright scary for those of us who watch.

And we’re also aware, as they are not, of just how tough life in the adult world can be. I remember the moment, months after my own graduation, when I looked at our tiny apartment, our income to match and found myself wishing for my old college life where someone else paid the bills.

Yet this is their time, their moment. Like young birds on the nest edge, they vibrate with joy and expectation. Everything in them calls them out…and we who love them wouldn’t hold them back for the world.

That’s where our prayers come in.

We turn to the One Who created these young birds, Who has known and cared for them since before their birth, Who holds them in His loving hands. And we trust that this ancient promise proves true, that the foundation we have laid of love and wisdom and truth will hold when the storms and challenges of life threaten them, as we know they will.

This is graduation season and we …rejoice.

FATHER GOD: I pray for those who are graduating, especially my grandson. Keep them safe. Protect them from foolish and dangerous decisions. Then guide them as they soar out into the open air. May they fly well. Amen.

First published May 14, 2017.