My best friend, Michael, and I made up half the Mormon population in our grade at the local high school. A teacher who had both of us, but had somehow missed our shared faith, called us his "Thoreaubians" because of the strong independent streak we'd developed from our minority religious experience.
Michael and I both went to colleges in Ohio for a year, followed by two years each of full-time church missions (his to Brazil and mine to Germany the same year those two nations faced off in the finals of the World Cup), followed by half a year each back at Ohio colleges, after which we both ended up out West at BYU (Michael a semester or two sooner than I).
After a few years in Utah, Michael got married. About a year after him, I got married, too.
Yesterday, Michael's wife gave birth to a son they named Owen:
Sometime soon (she hopes very soon), my wife will give birth to a son we'll name Elijah or Jacob or Benjamin or Leif (unless we listen to Kira and name him "Balraj" or "Bob Singh").
Looking at little Owen, I can't help but think: Michael and I have done really well for ourselves. We've both made through the first third of our lives (statistically speaking) without touching alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. We've spent three hours each week in church getting practice listening patiently, which is not bad exercise for being husbands and fathers. We've found good women who share our belief in God and our commitment to his children and want to make homes with us. We've lived in American abundance without turning totally materialistic, and we've learned an awful lot without developing the delusion that we know everything we need to know.
And now we're helping launch another generation of Mormon men. So I pray for them: that they'll find good ways to belong and know when it's a blessing not to belong. That they'll know what they want enough in their hearts to avoid the worst distractions our society throws at their senses. That they'll be aware but not too afraid, and open but not thoughtless or reckless. I don't pray that their world will be better: I know it will be better and also worse. But I pray that both its good and its evil will ultimately serve to bring out the divine in them.
May they remember and honor the dead as they serve and care for the living.
Happy late birth day, Owen. Happy soon-to-be birth day, my son.
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