Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Life goes on
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the June 21, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Has it ever caught your attention how much we celebrate the end of things during the months of May and June? In many parishes May and June bring the end of religious education class for the year. May and June are the months in which Confirmation and First Eucharist frequently are celebrated. And much to the delight of children, these months also signal the end of the school year as they close the books on another year of hard work. It likewise is the time of year for high schools and colleges to say good-bye to their graduates.
May and June are the end of efforts which young hearts (and sometimes, not-so-young) have eagerly anticipated for months if not years. And nearly all these endings are celebrated with a sense of closure, ending a chapter of expended energy and strain. It’s interesting to listen to what we say to these graduates – in person, by means of greeting cards, and in the course of long speeches. “Congratulations,” is the usual word on our lips.
To many folks this phrase communicates “Happy ending!” “Job well done!” or “You’ve made it!” The word “congratulations” literally means “with pleasure or delight.” It communicates a sense of real happiness at the ending the other person is celebrating. In that light it is obvious that at a deeper level of consciousness we are not celebrating so much the end of things this time of year as we are rejoicing in grace and opportunity.
No matter what is ending in people’s lives in May and June, the end we celebrate actually is a pause in the more vast journey of life. May and June are artificial but necessary moments to mark time and take note. Graduations of one kind or another are always a bit somber for that reason. Life is a serious adventure. Beneath its surface we recognize that we are carried by a dynamic which is far greater than our achievements. Dare we call it the grace of God’s love? We are collaborators at best with this Ground of our being. Graduation is a time for taking stock of what has been and what has happened in our lives. With hindsight our efforts gain perspective. With faith we recognize that the handiwork of God can be seen only after the fact, in looking back.
But graduation is also a time of gratitude. We would not be who we are if it were not for the opportunities and graces which have blessed us. The generosity of parents, the sacrifice of teachers, all those who make the system work. As much as we may think we are celebrating the end of our efforts, we at best are only celebrating the end product of a truly collaborative effort.
Graduation, of course, also is a time of beginning. As much as we may not relish the idea, life goes on. Graduation is not so much the end as the beginning of the beginning. Ironically, we are always starting. Such is the nature of grace and relationship with God. In every blessing we are invited into direct relationship and a closer walk with God. The partnership in love is never over; it just changes shape. Regardless where our efforts lead us and no matter what we manage to accomplish, we are always led to something more.
With this in mind, perhaps our words at graduation ceremonies should not just be “Congratulations,” but also, “I’ll see you at the next stop. Life goes on.”
(Father Savelesky is the diocese's Director of Deacon Formation and pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)
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