There is always a moment in a graduation ceremony where I am inspired. It may be when the graduates first process in and I get my first glimpse of our son or daughter. It may be when they stand up to receive their degree or their congratulations. Perhaps the speaker says something that captures the moment. Sure, a lot of ceremonies are long, with too many speeches, and depending on their location an attempt at heatstroke. But, as I sat in my son’s graduation ceremony on Saturday I realized that I was sitting in a parable – an experience or an image that can point to something else, something profoundly true.
Graduation ceremonies celebrate the successful completion of something that has required hard work, dedication, focus and a sense of purpose. They also celebrate a transition, even if it’s from kindergarten to first grade. (In the town where our boys went to school all of the kindergartens were in the same building with no other grades, so the end of that year was always a big graduation. They had successfully completed kindergarten. Libby and I were so proud.)
The parable? At least three lessons.
1. There is a glory to our lives, a transcendent meaning, something that really matters. I am reminded of Jesus’ ‘graduation’ parable in Luke 19:11ff, that highlights the great responsibility that God has given us in this life, hopefully ending with the acclamation, “Well, done, faithful servant.” Imagining that moment inspires a vision for our life today, that it may contribute to God’s great purposes in this world.
2. That life is lived in chunks. God has created us to experience life in moments, seasons, stages. Did you know that one of the great mysteries in theoretical physics is why the ‘time arrow’ only moves in one direction? Scientists have conferences on this very thing. It not only moves in one direction, but it does so in rhythms: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. How great to realize that this day is a a great gift, a chunk of opportunity to live in and for the blessing of God? Do you think that your sense of vision and gratitude will be affected knowing that this day is a great gift and opportunity?
3. We do it together. The Dean at my son’s graduation was great; brief and personable. After his welcome he asked parents to stand to be recognized for their contribution in the lives of their son or daughter. When they were seated, he asked grandparents to stand. Then spouses. Then children of the graduates. Several spouses held up infants. It was a great moment of solidarity, of affection. Think about this: today you are going to affect the graduation trajectory of someone you know. A family member, a friend, someone at work. What’s your vision for helping them to ‘gradutate’ this life well? What little or large deposit will you make to their “Well done!” moment?