We are heading into the season of graduations and it is one of my favorite times of the year. As a long-time youth pastor and a current college minister, graduation is a wonderful time of celebration.
The graduates look at it with a certain amount of trepidation. What’s next? The whole point of graduation is to celebrate the ending of one season and the beginning of the next. We often think about graduation as the finish line, but the word commencement itself means to start something. It is about new beginnings. Graduation is about being sent out into whatever is next, which is often murky and uncertain.
Mourning and Moving On
One of the things I think we miss in celebrating what we have achieved is that celebrating the end of a difficult accomplishment also necessitates mourning the end of a difficult process. Few of our college juniors associate graduation with mourning, but by the time they are a senior and their actual commencement roles around, the mourning starts to set in.
Mourning and celebration are actually two sides to the same coin. They are cousins. Necessary components of a healthy person.
There are two things that hold us back from commencing forward (see what I did there). The first is that we try to hold onto what has ended. Graduating means it is over. You can’t go back. And the next thing won’t be the same as the last thing. You’ve got to move on. The second mistake we make is we don’t really learn from what we are graduating from. It is just another in a linear set of obligations. We’ve reached another checkpoint, guess I gotta keep going.
The Blending of Seasons
The great trap humans fall into is believing that this season is a slog and if they can just get to the next season, things will be better. One of my mentors once told me, “you begin a new season the way you ended the one before.”
Think about how big a deal we make about January 1st. A new year! It is really an arbitrary date. A way to count the days. But it has this feel of new beginnings, new possibilities. We look at difficult years (I see you 2020) and think, “this year has got to be better.” But it is just a rolling timeline. One thing leads to another. There are no real resets, at least not in a pure form.
The reason is because we carry ourselves from one season to the next. ME is the great constant in every season. And if I am a jerk in this season; I’ll likely be a jerk in the next. If I am lazy or bitter about my current circumstances, those future shiny circumstances will one day fall under the same spell.
So, congrats to anyone who is ending a season. You have accomplished something. You have started something new. And, most importantly, you are always you along the way.
That means you can change at any time. You don’t need a turn of the calendar or the end of a major season. You are the agent of change in your own life, now and then. In these circumstances and in the ones to come.