Graduation, the ending of an era.
Graduation is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, as a “conferral or receipt of an academic degree or diploma marking completion of studies,” or “a ceremony at which degrees or diplomas are conferred; a commencement.” It is further defined as “an arrangement in or a division into stages or degrees.”
My wife and I have just celebrated graduations with two of our grandsons. The first was in Houston, Texas, with Nathanial Lee. He has decided his next course of action after High School. He has joined the Marines and will leave around the third week of July to begin his basic training in San Diego, California. Another of our grandsons, Jackson Marsh, graduated in Wilmington, North Carolina, and has plans to go to a College in Alabama in the fall.
We enjoyed our time with both of these young men and their families. As grandparents, it was a time filled with memories from when they were born and all the intervening happenings, to now. Lots of smiles as good times were remembered. Sobering thoughts as we contemplate what life still holds for them ahead in the future. We are proud of both of these young men and know that they will succeed at whatever they do.
Graduation time in both the high schools and the universities is an exciting time. Their time of formal study is ending. Yet, they may or may not realize that so much more is ending besides just their time there as students. Friendships, built up and nurtured under the constant play of closeness and interaction, though not necessarily ending, will none-the-less be greatly changed, as separate paths of life are sought out. A time of comfort brought on by familiarity with friends, teachers and the school itself will end, as these students move on to the next phase of their lives, college, military or jobs.
Commencement is a word used to denote the ceremony for graduation. It means the beginning or a start of something. Graduation is the beginning of something new in the lives of these students: New places, new faces, new friends, new schools, new work places, new experiences. It may even possibly bring a new change in geographic setting as they move off to begin the next phase of their life.
Graduation: It is a word, that in understanding its true meaning, we know that more than anything else it means change. Graduating seniors have begun to understand, that with their graduation, their lives will be changed forever. They are sad about that. Though at the same time, as is so true of youth, there is a great expectation and excitement at looking toward a future that is still somewhat undefined.
Just as they made the adjustment from elementary to middle school and then on to high school, so too will they adjust to college, the military and work places of life. They have been prepared. They are ready; this is why they are the Graduating Seniors of 2019.
Just as I pointed out above, there is yet a third definition of the word graduation, “an arrangement in or a division into stages or degrees.” This time of graduation from high school is but one more stage or degree among the many others that will follow these young people throughout the rest of their lives. Though many of them will go on to graduate from colleges and universities, there will be many other graduations besides these in their lives. These other graduations will not necessarily be as formal. It may be their marriage, the birth of a child, a change in employment, a promotion, growing older, seeing their own children graduate, and the birth of their grandchildren.
You see, life is a series of graduations for us all. It is the ending of something and the beginning of something, all at the same time. We all are continuously in the process of going forward in our life, ever moving forward in change, ending one stage and beginning another. This is the nature of life. The continual challenge of the graduation process is before us all. The process is one of a lifetime. Paul said in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me— the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” We all must finish the race of life before us and accomplish the myriad number of goals before us over our life time.
Graduation is the ending and the beginning of something in our lives, continuously. Congratulations to the Class of 2019, with your graduation, step into your future!
Brad Morris, a retired minister, originally from Georgetown, served as a pastor and then as a missionary in Costa Rica and Ecuador, can be reached at email@example.com. He has been in ministry for 49 years and a columnist for 16 years, 11 of which have been for the Times.