A Prayer for 8th Grade Boys

Editorial note: The author of the prayer invites you to change the plural pronouns (us/ourselves/we) to singular (me/myself/I) if that better meets your needs.

A Prayer for 8th grade boys,
(And all within us that is faced with loneliness, rejection, and disconnection)

Spirit of the divine masculine,
Grant us the strength to nurture in ourselves,
And in every young person we have the privilege to know
The gifts of patience, curiosity, and compassion.

To the boy at the edge of adulthood,
To the boy at the brink of despair:

For you who feel rejected, or not enough,
For you who feel the unfairness of the world,
But don’t know what to do with it:

May your longing for belonging
be met with compassion as well as structure,
And as you strive for your place in this world
May you choose always the gentler,
more cautious, and wiser ways of being.

As you explore reactions and test limits,
May your edgy jokes be met with firm boundaries rooted in curiosity rather than shame.

As you practice tenderness and vulnerability,
May your heartfelt tears be met with warm embraces infused by solidarity rather than ridicule.

As you experience the highs and lows of life,
May you feel your every emotion fully, naming and making friends with each one.

As you gather knowledge and chart your own path,
May you be savvy to the lies of charlatans who would tempt you with the easy path of blaming others.

As you seek companionship and physical affection,
May you respect boundaries and strive for mutually beneficial relationships of trust and safety.

As you make friends and build community,
May they bear the marks of true belonging,

The belonging that doesn’t make you to cut off parts of your own self to fit in
The belonging that doesn’t ask you to blame others
The belonging that doesn’t require you to treat others as less-than-human objects
The belonging that welcomes all your joy and sorrow and anger and confusion and humor and experiments and mistakes, and loves you through it all,
With a love that will tell you when your words and actions hurt others
With a love that will heal your own hurt as well.

To the boy at the edge of adulthood,
To the boy at the brink of despair,
To the boy hearing his own story in this prayer,
To the boy yearning to grow beyond what has come before:

May you grow strong by showing compassion
Grow brave by being vulnerable
Grow wise by thinking critically
Grow fair by listening deeply
Grow virtuous by accepting boundaries
Grow powerful by seeking truth
Grow resilient by knowing thyself

May you know love
May you choose gentleness
And may you flourish into the great potential unfolding before you.

Blessed Be

A silhouette of six or seven young people against a cloudless sky, which ranges from pale blue near the bottom to deep blue at the top of the image.