“Hobbits don’t like adventures” is how the speech began. What followed was a message about finding the courage to leave the shire and trusting the adventure to be had will outweigh the comfort of the familiar. Yes, there will be mountains as well as valleys, companions as well as dragons, but, in the end, the Hobbit will be changed in dramatic and special ways.

It would have been a good graduation speech on its own, but it came from a boy who, two years ago was completely and utterly lost. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at a very late age, he did not know if he even wanted to live anymore.  And yet, in that very dark place his mother found a special school far away. It would mean leaving his “hobbit hole” and going on an adventure. Like any normal person, it meant leaving the known for the unknown. Because of Asperger’s, however, the fears were larger, mountains higher, woods darker, and dragons more ferocious.

But somewhere, somehow, he rose from his bed and got in the car. He survived the first day, then second, before realizing there was such a thing as hope. In two years, that lost child was found, or, as the Bible puts it, “He was dead and is alive again.”

On Saturday that boy stood before his classmates – faithful companions and dragon-slayers one and all - and delivered a commencement address I will never forget. I am not over it yet, perhaps I’ll never be, but I give thanks for the courage he found, the companions he walked beside, and the opportunities he seized.

He will never be the same, nor will his father.

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