“Reach for the stars!”
“Never give up!”
“Failure is critical to success!”
“You can change the world!”
As I shook their hands for the fourth and final time over a two day period, I decided to have some fun with the recent graduates by rapidly firing off all the great graduation wisdom that I have heard over the years. To a person, each graduate got a smile or a smirk on their face at my attempt to make light of all the advice that had been so eloquently and voluminously offered to all who have walked through this type of transition.
One of the greatest blessings of serving as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota is being able to participate in the graduation ceremonies for both Episcopal Schools – Breck School and Shattuck-St Mary’s. Through the years, I have heard numerous speeches from faculty, alumni, celebrities and students. Each have done their best to encourage those who are about to embark on one of the most transformational chapters of their lives.
Through all the speeches, there is one thread that always intrigues me. The basic premise goes something like this: “You have everything you need.”
While this is a well-intended sentiment by the speakers, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, education and experience are critical for moving forward in life. However, in my opinion, the real key to success is being able to cooperate and collaborate with others. One can possess learning, yet if one has not learned the importance of how to be in healthy relationship with others, then all the education in the world will only take one so far.
As Jesus is preparing for his earthly exit in John 14:18, he promises those close to him that he will “not leave you comfortless” (or, more precisely, orphaned). This is the promise of the forthcoming Holy Spirit. The manifestation of the Holy One abides within us, and is that which binds us all together.
With this in mind, here is my graduation one-liner:
“Go out from this place, but know that you do not go alone. The Holy Spirit dwells deep within you, and is calling you to connect with all of God’s creation in the bringing forth of the Beloved Community.”