Boys will be…. Men
Let’s face it. No one knows quite what to do with an adolescent boy.
Like bears in a zoo, they’re large and awkward, short on words. They’re rowdy and unpredictable — making spectators relieved for the distance between them — and mothers sometimes wish they could simply toss peanuts, rather than endure strained dinner conversation.
And yet, deep inside each of those young men is a tender heart, a kind soul… a budding leader.
I just picked up my oldest son from a Kairos retreat, an intense four-day personal discovery where retreatants examine their personal relationship with God.
This was a group of Central Catholic High School seniors. Central Catholic is San Antonio’s oldest all-male high school, and while it has a wonderful reputation for graduating tomorrow’s leaders, you can practically smell the sweaty socks from outside the front door. The testosterone is off-the-charts.
But it was here in the heart of Central’s musty old gym where I witnessed a thing of real beauty.
These boys ….these unshowered, unshaven, mismatched raggamuffins… one by one stood up to say how this retreat changed their lives. During these last four days, they had shared difficult stories, their worst fears, their doubts about religion, worries about the future and found that, well, they weren’t alone. They spoke up in front of a gym full of grown ups and, with great eloquence, revealed…. That it’s OK to share your feelings. It’s OK to cry. To love.
They learned that the Central brotherhood was more than a marketing phrase. That being a man has nothing to do with drinking beer, hazing others and demeaning women. Being a man means having the courage to show you care, to admit your weaknesses to embrace your feelings. That real friends are the boulders left behind in the sieve when all the other pebbles wash away.
As these boys departed with warm abrazos, I saw a glimpse of the future. They were armed with all they needed to be men. No AP class, no football touchdown, no ROTC award will matter as much as the knowledge that they can rely on each other.
These boys will be…. good men.