This morning I asked an Augustinian friend if he would bless Crash after Mass today (it was Crash's last outing as an altar server before he leaves for Wonderful Jesuit University). "Sure, we'll meet afterward."
The readings were certainly apt for sending off students, Wisdom setting an inviting table for those who would learn, Paul advising the Ephesians to be discerning. Wisps of memories kept drifting through. Standing with Crash at the doors to the Church, asking of the Church that he be baptized. The time he bent over after the second reading (from St. Paul to the Romans) and at age 5 whispered wonderingly in my ear, "Rome, I've been to Rome." Watching him grow taller and his shoulders broader over the decade he has been an altar server, now effortlessly balancing the Missal for the presider. I cried unabashedly as he came up the aisle today, holding up the cross to which I had bound him so many years ago.
Communion ended and the presider came down to the front of the altar, rather than stand at the presider's chair, to offer the Communion prayer and final blessing, and winked at Math Man and me as he did so. He gestured to Crash to bring the Missal to him, and said the prayer after Communion. He turned around to set the Missal back on the altar and as Crash went to move back to his place, he said, "Stay for a moment."
The presider asked if there were any other people headed off to college, and then went on to say that while his parents had asked for a blessing for Crash after Mass, it seemed to him that the whole community should be part and parcel of the blessing for all the young people we were sending on, so he'd decided to do it now. He noted that Crash was a "child of the parish" — baptized here, at a Mass 18 years ago, where the parish promised, aloud, to support us in our work. He then quoted from the second reading, "And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit..." and said that may be the blessing college students need most, which made us all laugh.
He then grew serious as we asked God to grant that Crash and his compatriots be happy, successful, and filled with peace. That they might have wisdom. Grace flowed from the mystery we had just celebrated, in rivers. And then Crash picked up the cross again, and holding it high above our heads, led the way out.