Thursday, July 15, 2010


Journal for Christa—

The principal I’ve worked for the past few years has moved to Missouri. The thing I’ll miss most about him is his devotions each week. He’s incredibly transparent and encouraging. I had thought his last departing message to me was the week before graduation. I was wrong—very wrong.

Graduation is an exciting time. Some years I’ve been quite involved with graduation. But, this year I was just a spectator, and happy to be one. Graduation went as graduations tend to go—filled with joy and anticipation. As the speakers looked toward a bright and romanticized future, I pondered the fact that I’ve taught long enough and kept up with enough graduates to know that life rarely delivers on high school dreams—or college ones either for that matter.

To peek over into the adult world seems to be rosier than what people actually find there. Not that life is dismal; it isn’t—but life is also often hard—sometimes lacking the people you need, sometimes dealing with the people you need, and often just not knowing what you need. For some reason this year in particular, my mind wandered to such thoughts, and I wondered how well they were prepared for what they’d find on the other side.

Then, at the close of the last prayer, the last presentation of the class, the music started and out the graduates marched, proud with anticipation. I stood waiting with the rest of the faculty for the cue to file out behind the dignitaries on the platform. And, as I paused, this principal—a living example to me—directed the others to proceed without him. Then as the music played, he turned and began picking up caps that’d momentarily been tossed in the air. When the graduates returned to retrieve their caps, they would find them neatly placed on the tables instead of scattered about the floor.

I don’t know if he stayed to chat or if anyone paused to thank him—thank him for the caps, for all he’d done for them, for his example before them. This one final act was the last thing he would do for them. He could have walked out of the auditorium and out a side door, as I did, but he didn’t. He chose instead to pick up hats—not rushed and purposefully, but slow and methodically—as if each cap was a symbol of the individual graduate who possessed it.

1 comment:

  1. Graduations are wonderful events that fill your heart with hope, but I always look at the students and think, "They're so naive." We were all there at one time.

    Funny you wrote about this now. I was just watching St. Elmo's Fire the other night and reliving those days after college when you want the party to last but you know it's time to be an adult.