Oh, young man, I want you to rise up early and seek the face of God. To reach over to your bedside table, still bleary with sleep and grope for God’s word, hungry to put just one line of it into your awakening soul.
I want you to hear the voice of the holy Spirit calling to you instead of the chirp of a text message coming in that draws you out of your slumber.
I want you to rise and bathe and wash all your sins away in the waters of new life, understanding that your daily confession is met with merciful absolution, sprouted anew just that day for you.
I want you to groom yourself with thoughts that are lovely, noble, admirable and praiseworthy, use the hair gel we bought you and don’t forget deodorant. And for goodness’ sake (and the sake of all of those around you) please brush your teeth! As you do, scrub all filthy talk and course joking from your mouth that you had planned to spew that day in order to elicit one brief moment of laughter from your buddies. Leave no sarcasm behind and spit out any false doctrine you’ve picked up so far in life.
I want you to come downstairs on time, eat breakfast and recall, as you are doing so, the very etymology of the act–you are breaking a fast. And as you dive into your yogurt or granola or fresh bowl of berries recognize the life lesson being preached in the moment: that we deny ourselves for a time and keep certain things asleep only to indulge at the right and proper time. I want you to see the metaphor of the moment and be wise.
I want you to make your own lunch because you are responsible and thankful for your daily bread. It is your gathering of manna for the day. Don’t take too much and don’t take too little (read: one bag of chips and not two!) for it will sour in your system. Only take what is needful.
I want you to smile pleasantly as you do all these acts and kiss me goodbye as we drop you at school- a love for learning alight in your eyes, ready to lead your friends along the path of wisdom and sit at the feet of great teachers who await you in the ludus, your place of play.
While you are there, please frolic and play in the fields of Shakespeare, wrestle with Pre- Cal and volley back and forth the ideas in your Christian Ethics class with the skill of a Wimbledon champ.
As you walk through the halls and sit in class, I want you to speak respectfully and meditate on noble ideas, expressing great thoughts and asking deep questions. And when you put all of these noble ideas into written form, please communicate them well, with both style and syntax.
At lunch, ask a table blessing and commune with your fellow classmates while you chew slowly, fellowship and enjoy. Let your conversation cover Dante and Spencer or perhaps share a poem (that you’ve composed over the weekend in your leisure time).
After school, sing out the liturgy with gusto because you understand the full implication of its meaning. Sing well, sing with passion and harmonize a little while you’re at it. Better yet, pull out your instrument and play along for the sheer pleasure of doing so.
Be the first to volunteer to serve during carpool for you are eager to do good works that your Father in heaven might be glorified. This is, after all, your chief end and you bear that in mind daily.
After school, get thee to whatever sporting activity is in season. Run hard, push yourself, dig deep and discipline your flesh. Be like Eric Liddell and feel God’s pleasure as you finish your third mile in the 90 degree Georgia heat. Be amazing.
Then come home, my son and help to set the family table. Engage in discussion with your siblings and with us, your beloved parents, as we eat food prepared slowly. Savor each bite, linger long and tell us all that you have learned. Bring up intriguing topics of conversation that engage us all for an easy hour.
Help us clean the kitchen, take out the trash and hum happily as you do so- preferably Beethoven’s ninth or something worshipful, perhaps one of Luther’s or Wesley’s hymns but certainly not Imagine Dragons.
Duties done, go and embrace your leisure. Finish your homework with gusto, work on that nine page paper and top off the day with a couple of chapters in the book we gave you for Christmas. (Have you not finished that yet??) Don’t even think of putting in earbuds or texting unless it’s about homework. And don’t let us catch you in bed watching Dr. Who or, God forbid (literally- convict him and stop him, Lord!), surfing youtube. Keep your way pure.
Oh young man, we are not asking much but lights must be out at ten pm (so they can be turned on again at six am), prayers thoughtfully uttered as you drift off into pure and peaceful sleep so that you can do all of this again tomorrow. And do it well.
As you dream, dream of getting into the right college, pursuing a career that will make you a culture changer. And along the way please marry someone that you dad and I really like, a young woman just as in love with the True, Good and Beautiful as you are. While away at school, please master the Quadrivium, study abroad and hike the Appalachian trail. Later on, buy a farm, plow the land, energize your home with solar panels and windmills and train your children to be godly. Mature and grow, do regular family devotions and contribute to society. And share the gospel. And tithe. Run for mayor if you can, or governor, or President.
I’m not asking much, my son. But be noble, be holy and be winsome as well. (And don’t play Fortnite.)
We love you.