This is it, I graduate from Calvin College this week. It is a bittersweet feeling. It feels clique to say this, but it truly is the epitome of bittersweet. The people who told me before beginning college that the next four years were going to be the best years of my life, were correct.
My time at Calvin has been fun, difficult, busy, challenging, affirming, and enlightening. It has been a time when I have worked hard and played hard, served God and served neighbor, studied what I loved and loved what I studied. I thought, learned, followed, prayed, built lifelong friendships, sang, worshiped, and took notes, a lot of notes.
At the same time Calvin has prepared me to create and follow a vision for my life, however vague and unclear it may be at the moment. Calvin has taught me how to leave this campus, go out into the world, serve God, and restore it. I am excited to put into practice what I have learned. Over the years I have learned that it is possible and even imperative to be faithful to God in every aspect of my life.
The answer to the existential questions are specifically vague. Whether I am volunteering, managing a business, reading at home, walking in the park, shopping at the farmer’s market, traveling the world, or eating out I am an image bearer of God and ought to act accordingly. Calvin has shown me what it means to act accordingly: to not shy away from the difficult questions, the tight tentions, the challenge to do both; and allowed me to understand the mandate to restore the world, right the wrong, walk alongside the vulnerable.
I want to share two speeches given at commencement ceremonies that I think communicate good thoughts and provide interesting take-aways for myself and my friends and fellow classmates graduating this week. This first is an excerpt from American writer and essayist David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address given at Kenyon College. (I reference this speech in my reflection of my semester in Ghana, read it here.) Enjoy:
The next speech is given by high school english teacher David McCullough Jr. at Wellesley High School’s 2012 commencement. Even though it is primarily addressed to high school graduates. I think the major points still apply to college graduates. Enjoy:
As the end of my four college years approach a close I have yet one more event, one more activity, one more task to do before I graduate from college. Commencement awaits me. It is interesting that the event that marks the end of this stage in my life is called commencement. The word itself means beginning! As so much seems to be coming to an end, the event that brings it all to a culmination celebrates beginning. A great reminder, and as my grandfather said, “whoever thought that this was a good word to describe your going out into the world, seemed to know what they were doing.”
As I approach this beginning the words of “Be Thou My Vision” echo in my head:
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.