It’s graduation time: a time for coming of age. All across the United States there are people young and old attending a graduation ceremony for themselves or for a loved one. These graduation ceremonies can be from kindergarten all the way up to the graduate level of college. In fact a 97 year-old drop out received an honorary diploma from her high school this year. However, which ever graduation a person is celebrating it signals a milestone in one’s life.
We celebrated PJ, our oldest grandson’s graduation from high school. The ceremony was held in the gymnasium. The day was hot with temps reaching near ninety but excitement was mounting as family and friends took their places in the bleacher seating anticipating the entrance of their loved ones. At last the graduates arrived wearing bright red robes with matching graduation caps. Their tassels properly placed on the left side jumped to and fro as they took their seats in orderly fashion.
I am sure many of us watching the graduating class of 2012 were thinking back to our own graduations or lack there of. Reminisce with the graduating class of 1941.
I, however, did not graduate from high school, so watching the young adults receive their diplomas was bitter-sweet for me. I was never a teenager facing a future with options. I could only imagine the feelings these young people were experiencing. I could only imagine the excitement, wonder, fear, anxiety, joy and hope.
We listened as the speakers for PJ’s graduation tried to inspire and encourage their graduating class during these tough times. David McCullough Jr used the words, “You are not special” during his commencement speech to Wellesley High School seniors to help them deal with the rough road ahead. Despite the shocking words of not being special I find his speech inspiring. Take a few moments and listen for yourself.
While watching PJ’s ceremony, I was struck how it is a coming of age ceremony which is sorely need in our Western culture. Yet, to end the stage of childhood and to step into adulthood is an important threshold to cross. PJ is crossing this threshold. He is leaving behind his life as a boy and entering his life as a man. I found a quote from The Rites of Passage Institute of Cleveland, OH at ReligiousTolerance.org that sums up nicely what I am saying.
“The final entrance into adulthood has been provided from time immemorial by the ‘coming of age’ ceremony. Like the other major life chronicle ceremonies accompanying birth, marriage and death, the coming of age ceremony located the individual anew within the surrounding community and indeed with the universe as a whole. It was a critical moment of expansion, the entrance into larger responsibilities, larger privileges, larger secrets, larger institutions, and larger understandings. It amounted to a second birth, entry not into physical life but into higher life of culture and the spirit. Accordingly, it called for the society to display itself to full effect, giving presence to its myths and traditions, physical expression to its animating beliefs.
The moment arrived and I sat transfixed as I watched each young adult receive his or her diploma. When PJ’s name was called my heart fluttered. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a fine young man and I am sure he will make his mark on the world. It is a difficult time for young people to start their life as adults. He is faced with a country in economic, environmental and political crisis. For some graduating seniors the decision about what to do after high school can be daunting. I send PJ and all those facing these types of decision love and positive energy as they make their way.
I think this is an inspiring time not just for the graduates but for me. I hope you feel renewed inspiration for yourself as we celebrated the graduates across the country. Check out VideoAmy’s list of graduation speeches for more inspirational messages.