Starting Point
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Issue Date:  November 26, 2004

Starting Point


Our oldest son’s dream machine, his 1971 green GMC Sierra pickup, sits parked behind his house, a relic of his bygone youth. Its rusting chrome bumper, door panels and fenders all give testimony to the passages of his life.

He’s now a 30-year-old who works as a transition coach for troubled teens. He drives a more practical vehicle now.

Recently I decided to go out and poke around his prized pickup. The first thing I noticed were the back window decals: MSU Mankato; Got Flint: Future Artifacts; Snap On Racing; and mud flaps that read, “Give Me Space.”

I opened the creaking door and climbed the steep step to look inside. Dog hair is all over the passenger side of the seat from his German shorthair puppy, Crom. Inside, the cab is littered with belongings, like a memory box of his life: salted sunflower seeds, empty soda cans, a camouflage tool belt, the partial jawbone of a deer he found while hiking, a student loan bill stuck in an ethics class paper, a Star Wars figurine dangling from the mirror, a faded green paper rose memento, a toothbrush still in its box, binoculars and a heavy metal rock tape.

There were many times when our son did not think he would find his niche in life. Many struggles, challenges and the death of his youngest brother mark his journey in life. These things are now integrated memories that shape who he is today.

When I look into our son’s eyes, there is a directness in the gaze, a knowing and clarity that reveals a passage our son has made. There is no mistaking it, and it brings a catch in my throat. Our son has become a man.

When God’s voice from heaven said of Jesus in Matthew 3:17, “This is my son of whom I am well pleased,” one can well imagine the pride, devotion and depth of those words. They speak for every parent who celebrates a child coming of age.

Joni Woelfel’s fourth book, The Edge of Greatness: Empowering Meditations for Life, was recently published by Resurrection Press.

National Catholic Reporter, November 26, 2004

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