Ending and Beginning Words for a Graduate

Erin, our daughter, graduates from Oklahoma City University on Saturday.  She will complete a religious education degree as a Bishop Scholar with cum laude honors.  (Dad bragging)  We are headed to Oklahoma City today to attend the honors ceremony and reception, baccalaureate, and then the actual graduation ceremony itself, where Erin will give the invocation.

Graduations can get a little long and little bit more than the backside can stand.  It’s worth the two hours of hot air that comes from the dais when you get to see a special someone whom you love deeply and matters to you significantly grasping a diploma after years of hard work

Two speeches are given by the students at graduations; the salutation given by the salutatorian, and the valediction given from the valedictorian.  Salutation means “welcome” and valediction means “farewell.”  I have always thought the reason we have preserved the Latin words is so we who help pay for the education are reminded our graduate is educated.  The real reason, those two speeches remind us this is an ending and beginning.  The fact this is an ending and beginning is the reason we call graduations “commencements”.  They signal the beginning of the next phase of life for which the schooling has prepared the graduate. 

As Erin launches into her adult phase of life, (she is going to love it, rent, insurance, and all the fun stuff) we will offer to her our sagacity and wisdom about what she is leaving behind and what she steps toward.  I could go on and on with another dad talk while she politely rolls her eyes (never knew how she did that).  Instead I will borrow the words of another who captures my own imagination about living into a future.  Rainer Maria Rilke published a lovely book, Letters to a Young Poet.  His advice:

  • I would like to beg you as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Erin you will live your way into the answers for the rest of your life.  Be patient my child and try not to miss a moment filled with the divine grace of God.  Love you!

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