There are times when we need to show a brave face to our kids; when they need a calm reassuring voice before they do something challenging, or even dangerous. I just dropped my 14-year-old son off at his Scout Masters house for his first 7-day backpacking trip known to Boy Scouts as High Adventure. He is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout and this will help him get there. Hiking, rappelling, and camping in the Grand Canyon for an entire week, carrying your own tent, supplies, food and water is no joke! His dad, who went on several High Adventures when he was a kid, helped my son prepare, making sure that he had what he needed for the week. I watched them double and triple check each item. Still, I began to worry, will he wear sunblock? Will he go hungry? Will he lose his footing on the trail? Will something go wrong with the rappelling? What if he sprains his ankle - or worse? Feeling myself begin to spiral downward as I drive, I say, "I'm so excited for you buddy. This is going to be awesome. Don't forget sunblock on your ears and the back of your neck."
We arrive and exchange hugs. He thanks me, smiles, grabs his stuff from the trunk and walks away without looking back. The nervous mom part of me, wants to scream, "Come back - it's too dangerous!" throw him in the car, and drive a way. But the other part of me, that wants to see him grow and become strong and successful, lets him go. As I drive back home, praying and wiping a few tears, I have to remind myself doing hard things with capable men will help him become a capable man. My husband points out sometimes: It's true that this is dangerous, and it's true that he could be seriously hurt - But what are the risks to him, if he doesn't go, and what kind of man do we want him to grow up to be?
What kind of man? I have thoughts of the bravery and the adventurous spirit of these men taking scouts into the wilderness. I think of my husband and his bravery and problem-solving skills developed from his own mountain adventures. I think of my own dad walking into the darkness for help when our family car was stranded, grandfathers who served in the U.S. Navy and Army. I hope I will always be grateful to fathers; men who came before, forging a path to the future.
My 83-year-old mother just sent me a poem about her father:
There never was one like him and they're never, ever, ever will be.
The prettiest mount
on the long Rocky Range,
and God meant him just for me.
The grass where he ruled
was scalloped and deep
entangling its lush on his mane.
Could it be that this horse allows one to ride while the stud,
himself, holds the reign?
No man could capture a creature like him.
No man could ride him down.
Except this one fellow
I heard of one time
met the horse on his golden
And that fellow was my Dad.
So dad taught me to ride
and he taught me right.
You'll always walk in the light
Then we rode, Dad and I,
on Prince's Trail,
the ride was magic for sure.
And indeed each time my horse snapped his long golden tail.
Then peaks around us might melt away
at 14,000 ft. for real
Peaks mean naught to the golden race wheel.
Such peaks, in fact,
simply add to the thrill!
It happens that way
sometimes peaks melt away
at fourteen thousand and still
a mere ponies path
to my great mount.
Nothing, I told you, could
break his will.
The golden horse, he had it all.
He never shied at man or beast
And never let me fall.
What took away that giant horse?
Man and mount,
where are they today?
Riding the range of the Wyoming skies.
Where else would a man and
his horse want to play?
The man was the horse
and the horse was the man
and their mistress was one little girl.
She rode the mountains of galloping hills.
Her Dad made them all for her.
Does she miss her grand mount
And her Daddy?
Not one speck.
In her old lady dreams
they circle West
Riding down Resurrection's beams.
I'm glad my mom shared this bit of cowgirl poetry and reminded me that her dad is my son's namesake whose spirit and toughness coaxed my mom to greater heights. Thanks, grandpa. I wonder what you think of the great-grandson who bears your name?
What kind of man? The men that I'm thinking of do hard things, brave things, and don't shy away from High Adventure, they seek it out. Whether wearing a scout uniform, a tool belt, or a suit, they blaze trails, and I'm thankful. To my uncles, brothers, father-in-law, my husband, and the many whose names I will never know; when we are standing at the Brooklyn Bridge or Hoover Dam, and my kids ask me, "Who built this?"
I answer, "Brave men."
I miss my boy, and I am praying. It's dangerous. At best he will come back burnt, scratched, sore - and different. But, as he takes these steps toward manhood, and rappels and hikes the Grand Canyon, I know he follows his father, grandfathers, and other great men. He is becoming the kind of man I hope he will be and that helps me look to the future with faith, not fear.