STEPHANIE HUBACH | CONTRIBUTOR
When my sons were little, they loved to watch the Walt Disney Davy Crockett movies. In one of their favorite scenes, Davy Crockett and the local bully—Bigfoot Mason—have a disagreement that leads to a fist fight. The drama opens with each of them spitting on their open palms (remember—I have boys!), clenching their fists, and then cautiously circling around the room—never taking their eyes off each other, declaring “Rough and tumble! No holds barred!” Whenever I’d hear little voices loudly announce, “Rough and tumble!” in our house, I knew that some faux fighting was about to commence.
When Graduation Signifies the Beginning
Just like a Davy Crockett vs. Bigfoot Mason fist fight, academic commencement ceremonies are often preceded with an announcement. Maybe your family is in the midst of sending out graduation announcements right now—letting the world know that your son or daughter is about to set off on new endeavors. Whoever named graduation ceremonies a “commencement” had to be an optimist, as the word means “beginnings.” It sets our sights on the horizon—what is to come, all that is unknown (in the best and most adventuresome way), and all that might be. The very concept of commencement is brimming with opportunities.
When Graduation Signifies the End
If you are a parent of a graduate, however, your feelings are likely more muddled than pure opportunistic optimism. For the opening of a new time is also, inevitably, the closing of another. It is an ending—a time of “lasts.” Senior year—in high school or college—is a year of “we will not pass this way again.”
The last band concert.
The last play.
The last football game.
The last prom.
As such, graduation events can stir up contrasts in tension with each other, more akin to the content of one’s wedding vows.
Joy and sorrow.
Plenty and want.
Sickness and health.
It is the swirling together of gratitude, abundance, and opportunity mixed in with loss, emptiness, and disruption. And that can feel very confusing. We are happy! Yet we are sad. We are hopeful! Yet we feel loss. Our hearts are full! Yet we feel empty.
When Graduation Signifies Everything In Between
For some families, however, it is neither the start nor the finish. It is not a new day, nor is it the end of an old day. It is the simply a reminder that their child did not (or could not) participate in the opportunities for growth that their parents might have hoped for.
Same thing: same old, same old.
This can occur for widely varying reasons.
The hopeful college journey that didn’t end well, and is still painful.
The child whose profound disabilities precluded them from going to college.
The family whose child dropped out of high school and is living who-knows-where.
Jesus: The Beginning, The End, and Everything In Between
Where is Jesus, in all of this? Everywhere.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, who was, and who is to come (Rev. 1:8).” He also says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13).”
In other words, he is before all things, the end of all things, and everything in between.
He is with us in the fresh beginnings.
He is with us in the losses of life.
He is with us in all of the already-not-yet-ness of this world, where his kingdom is here in part, and yet not here in all of its fullness.
So, wherever we find ourselves during this graduation season, remember that Jesus is there in it with us.
With us in the new beginnings as our Creator-King.
With us in the painful endings as our Suffering Savior.
And with us in all the uncertain and un-celebratory in-between times—as our Advocate before the Throne of Grace.
When, at commencement, you hear “Pomp and Circumstance” don’t think “Rough and Tumble”—instead, remember “Alpha and Omega.” The beginning and the end. Who IS, who WAS, and who IS TO COME.
Photo by Leon Wu on Unsplash