Like many towns in the 1980s, we provided an all-night party for all high school seniors the night of their graduation. Parents and community leaders organized a party of celebration, celibacy, and cheer (sans alcohol). A YMCA was transformed into a casino/nightclub/coffee house/activity center for 14 hours. As the preacher, I was assigned the roulette or craps table.
The sub-text was to guarantee the safety of the graduates on a dangerous night. One year I learned there are no guarantees no matter how hard you try.
Two hours after going home at 7 a.m., one graduate drove the two-lane thirty-mile highway to Columbia to buy something. He fell asleep at the wheel, and was killed in the car crash.
24 hours after their graduation, I hosted 24 youth with our mutual shock, silence, sobs, stories, and unanswerable questions. One life lesson we learned was that you can’t guarantee safety, no matter how many safety steps you take. The lesson was not worth the cost.
The next year, after another annual all-night sober celebration, we told the participants to sleep it off.
How have you learned that you can’t guarantee someone’s safety? Given that there are no guarantees, what steps do you take to seek safety for yourself and others? How might this reflection affect your response to this week’s guns and graduations?