Today is graduation day at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. Below is the letter I wrote to our 2017 graduates that is published in this year’s yearbook. I suggest that the circumstances in the world remain as daunting as when this reflection was written.
Dear Members of the Class of 2017,
Because of deadlines necessary for publication of our yearbook in a timely fashion, I write this annual message to graduates months before graduation. In fact, I am composing this letter on a peaceful morning on a quiet campus during the Christmas break on one of the last days of 2016. I bring that up because of the many expressions I have seen recently on social media that this year cannot end soon enough. In a sense that is certainly understandable in light of the events of the year: unspeakable violence at home and abroad, an emotionally tumultuous election season, and the deaths of an unusually high number of iconic figures.
2016 will be a memory by the time you read this, and the rest of your lives will await you. Whether or not you were in the “good riddance” segment of the population when 2016 ended, I urge each of you to resist such a temptation going forward no matter the circumstances of any particular year, month, day, or hour. We reject the gift of time at our peril, and- may I suggest in light of our mission statement- at the world’s peril. Especially in light of rather than in spite of the disturbing events in our world, it is all the more important that you embrace our fond hope for you “to lead fruitful lives and to serve a world in need.” We best not reject or attempt to escape a world in need (which will always be the case until the end of time), but rather we do well to serve that world in any way that is true to our best selves.
So I encourage you to continue to move forward and to love and embrace the world. Resist the temptation to disengage in the face of challenges, difficulties, and tragic events. My wish for you is one that Jonathan Swift expressed many years ago:
May you live all the days of your life.
Until next time,