Oh, the places you will go!

As I was sorting through materials last weekend in preparation for this year’s Christian Leadership Institute, (shameless plug: To be held June 26-July 1, at Cathedral Camp http://www.fallriverfaithformation.org/youth-and-young-adult/cli/), I came across a favorite little book of mine that I read to my own daughters when they were younger and that I also like to read to the CLI graduates at their CLI reunions. It’s a simple little book by Dr. Seuss. I understand it was the final book that Dr. Seuss wrote entitled “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” I thought it might be appropriate to revisit this little parable of life once again.

Since the school year is rapidly coming to a close, many of you may be graduating and heading to high school or college or the work place in the months ahead. You’ll all be making that important transition to the next phase of life and perhaps reflecting on some of the words of Dr. Seuss may make that transition easier or at least a little more amusing. 

While typical of Dr. Seuss’ writing style, this book was written for an older audience. In the typical sing-songy rhyme, the good doctor points out many of the important lessons of what will follow as many of you venture on in life. In this story, I believe, much can be learned. It’s all about going out and finding your way in life, weathering difficulties, being in charge of and taking responsibility for your life and how it turns out. It begins: 

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.*”

Of course, we hope you know that you are the one who will choose the direction of your life. Life is choice. You can let it happen to you or you can experience it on your own terms. We parents only hope that we’ve instilled the values that will act as signposts along the way. But ultimately, you make each decision. 

Sometimes you’ll choose the right way and sometimes the wrong way. Through it all, however, I hope the adults and friends in your life will be there for you. You will, of course, head down a wrong path or two (we all do) and you’ll occasionally find some not so good streets. 

“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,

you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.*”

As you transition on to the next phase of your life, you will attempt to do your best but it won’t always be easy.

“Except when you don’ t

Because, sometimes, you won’t.*”

Try hard as you may to avoid those bumps, you’ll hit some along the road. You’ll be tested and tempted as you move through these years toward adulthood. 

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.

Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.*”

You may even lose your way and end up “in a useless place.”

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...

or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?*

The road may be frightening and long and you may not want to go on. You may yearn for the “good old” days when everything seemed to be much more simple. Ultimately, however, you will learn to cope with life’s ups and downs, and that “slumps, lurches, and waiting places happen” to every Tom, Dick, and Mary.

Sometimes, because of the road you choose, you may feel that you are going it alone. Take those times of aloneness to really learn about yourself. 

All Alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something

you’ll be quite a lot.

On and on you will hike

and I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.*

Remember, that with prayer and with Jesus by your side, even though that thought may now seem the least cool thing to think about, you will be able to get through. Remember, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you and God together cannot get through. Just keep that one thought in your mind. 

 “And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

Kid, you will move mountains!*”

 So as you move on, remember that “a million miles begins with a step or two.” Take one step at a time. Don’t be in a rush to get to the finish line. Enjoy the scenes along the way. Stay faithful, be caring and loving and enjoy these days of your youth. 

A happy transition to all who are moving on. You’ll get through it OK!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So get on your way!*”

Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 35 years, Kristine, and a father of two daughters and a son-in-law and a five-week-old grandson! God is so good! Comments, ideas or suggestions? Please email him at DeaconFrankLucca@comcast.net

*Quoted from Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” 1990.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts