I was having a hard time finding words.
My son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor had been Saturday night, and I was sending an email to the entire Troop – Scouts, leaders, parents, etc. – to thank them.
To thank them for helping our family prepare for this great celebration. For attending it in such force. And then for disassembling every piece of it and putting items away into cartons, closets, and cars with orderly and cheerful precision – without bending cherished photographs or neglecting to sweep up the last crumbs of crushed Doritos on the carpeted floor.
The event was so much more than the sum of its material parts, of course. But I was unable to say precisely why.
Just hours before, I had let the ceremony’s prayers roll over me….
God, we thank you for the opportunity to come together …. Today is a celebration of a journey…full of challenges, friendship, struggles…. Little by little, month by month, and year by year, he was faithful and we celebrate his faith, commitment, and hard work.
With everyone in attendance, my husband and I recognized our son’s perseverance and efforts, the many merit badges he earned, his final large-scale community service project, and especially the character traits and leadership skills he’d developed along the way.
For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been molding boys into young men, and our son is no exception. We are in awe of what he’s accomplished by the tender age of 16.
But my pride wasn’t the point, either.
What was bursting at my seams? Why had it been so difficult to keep conversations light and airy on Saturday night?
I wrote my email Monday morning, attaching some additional words of thanks from my son, my husband, and me that had appeared in the program that was handed out to guests.
From my son (in part):
…I am honored that you have elected to spend your time here at my Eagle Court of Honor. You have each influenced me for the better in one way or another, and for that I am forever grateful.
And from my husband and me, to the Troop leaders:
….The thousands of hours you volunteer for these kids can never be repaid, and we are so grateful for your devotion…
I hit ‘send’ and resumed my daily tasks.
Later, a dear friend and Troop chair wrote back to me:
“Through His people, He gives back to His extra special Matthews family! We love you all so very much!”
I could barely see through my tears to respond.
I understood then – and not for the first time in my life – what had actually happened.
It was evidence of the timeless miracle of faith – that when we walk toward God believing in His goodness, the outpouring of His love will be more than our arms and hearts and minds can hold.
I live (and have for some time) in expectant hope that God’s promises to me, my children, and you are true now and forever. His love for us is perpetually strong and faithful (Psalm 117), even when we are unaware of His presence in our lives.
God’s grace was present throughout my son’s journey in Scouting. In every Board of Review, camping trip, merit badge assignment, Scoutmaster’s Minute wrap-up at the end of every Wednesday night meeting – God was there in all of it, working through His good people who day-by-day live out virtues that please His heart. Virtues including kindness, obedience, trustworthiness, helpfulness, thriftiness, and more.
When the Spirit of God is present and moving, there is indescribable joy.
The Boy Scouts welcome Scouts of many faiths. Scouts are encouraged to be reverent in their own faith tradition and to be respectful of the beliefs of others.
But the fact is – few organizations welcome the reverence of God at all anymore.
Few groups pray together.
Even fewer which shape the character of young people suggest that honoring God is important, much less provide regularly scheduled meeting time to do it.
Those that do are places of special strength and character.
And – I would submit – of peace. And love.
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Give glory, all you peoples!
The Lord’s love for us is strong; the Lord is faithful forever. Hallelujah! (Psalm 117)