Prayer Path

Prayer Path

One of my bucket list items is to help my child make a dream come true. While I am sure I will have more than one opportunity to support my kids over their lifetimes I think I was already blessed with one chance to do this.

Our son Sam has been involved in Scouting since he was in the second grade. One of the things he wanted to achieve was the very prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. I think Sam wanted to set this goal and then work toward achieving it for several reasons, one being a sharp young man he knew that it would definitely improve his chances for acceptance at top colleges, and give him an advantage over others in the quest for scholarship money, but I also think he wanted to see if he could be one of the 1% of young men across the country who are involved in Scouting who work hard enough to be called an Eagle Scout. I suppose the fact that his dad was an Eagle Scout also came into play a bit. Whatever the reasons Sam set this as his goal and Dan and I intended to offer our support.

Dan took a strong position on this issue, that being that he was already an Eagle Scout, if Sam wanted to do this he was going to drive the process himself. Dan was not going to push to the point of micromanaging Sam just so it would happen. It took Sam awhile to decide if he was going to motivate enough to get the job done, but when he decided he was determined.

The actual process of getting a project approved was probably the most difficult aspect of the whole process. Sam pitched a few ideas before he “found” his true calling. Sam talked with Father Brad of our church and asked if he had any projects that needed tackled. Now, Father Brad is a visionary and he had several ideas! By far, the most difficult project was the Prayer Path but in the end that is the one Sam chose.

I am proud of Sam for setting a goal and accomplishing it, I am proud of him for working so many hours during his Senior Year when he undoubtedly had many other demands on his time, but I am most proud of him for choosing such a massive project. He did not need to do that. If the goal was just to become an Eagle Scout there were easier ways to do that but Sam saw an opportunity to really make a permanent improvement on the church land, he saw an opportunity to create something that over 2000 families could benefit from and he saw a chance to honor the work of a previous Eagle Scout. That is what makes me really proud!

Father Brad really got excited when he realized Sam was willing to tackle this huge job and he used it ultimately to inspire other groups to take on other projects. After Sam completed his Prayer Path, the Hispanic parishioners designed and built a rose garden, the Youth Group built a gazebo and another scout installed benches along the path. I hope Sam realizes that he was, in part, the inspiration for all this positive action.

Once the commitment was made Sam got to work. First he and Father Brad had to agree on the overall design, Sam had to start the lengthy paperwork trail and line up the construction support he would need. Ultimately, the creation of the path required 15 acres of land, largely overgrown with scrub oak and other brush, to be cleaned and cleared. The path was mapped out and volunteer construction crews brought in to scrape the land and outline the path. Next Sam organized one massive volunteer building day, he spoke before the parish and asked for their time and labor. He motivated the entire parish to get behind him in this undertaking.

The actual workday Sam had a few jitters, I think he was a bit concerned if anyone would show up to help him and he realized there was no way to complete the path without a lot of support.

No fear, over 80 people not only showed up but worked over seven hours first laying landscape paper, moving rocks, then cementing the 14 Stations of the Cross and moving several tons of pea rock and shoveling it to even it out onto the new prayer path.

Dan supported Sam with good coaching about project management and helping secure the professional construction support necessary. I supported Sam with help getting the paperwork done, feeding the volunteers and a few time management pointers. In the end, Sam is the one who made the project happen, and his Dad and I got to watch him grow before our eyes. When Sam started this project he was a kid basically, a 17 year old who really couldn’t see what he was capable of yet. When he finished he was a young man who had just lad a project from inception to completion. He learned a lot about himself becoming an Eagle Scout. Dan and I were honored to help encourage him.

Sam was officially recognized as an Eagle Scout February 6, of 2010 and I think it really started to sink in to him what he had accomplished.

This fall I visited the Prayer Path on a Wednesday afternoon and watched over a dozen members of our community walk the path and take time for reflection. A teacher took her entire Faith Formation class around and they learned about the Stations of the Cross. I sat and enjoyed a beautiful fall day thinking of the young man who made it all happen. I was really proud of him. I called this young man, now far away in out of state, attending college on scholarship studying to become an engineer. I told him I was proud of him and that I loved him.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

Sam and Father Brad

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