At many schools this weekend including ours, it's graduation weekend! (My wife Beth is president of Webster University, where I also teach; nearby Eden Seminary, where I teach as well, has its ceremony next week.) Students and their families celebrate the conclusion of those years of work; students say goodbye to friends, although with Facebook, those goodbyes are less lonely than for those millions of us who hoped to stay in touch with friends by postal mail and an occasional phone call.
I have three degrees: a BA, Mdiv, and PhD. My favorite degree program was the Mdiv, but that was the least satisfying graduation, since it rained that year, and after the ceremony, everyone scattered with discouraging quickness. My significant other of that time warned it would be that way but I'd hoped otherwise. I liked college, although I was socially lonely there (partly my own fault). The courses and certain professors truly focused me upon my life's work and also my faith. But the graduation was way too long: well over two hours of ceremony on an unseasonably hot day, with tearful students' testimonies how much college meant to them, and I think a sermon, too, plus of course the conferral of diplomas. Did I mention the day was unseasonably hot? I just wanted to get out of that dark gown and get this over with. Doctoral work was painful and distressing, and perhaps for that reason, though the degree work isn't nostalgic, the graduation ceremony was rather thrilling and my favorite of the three. I almost skipped it and was so happy Beth talked me into it.
I offer prayers for students: that they'll continue into satisfying jobs or degree programs, that their memories of their graduation are happy, and that they can stay in touch with these friends for many years, as I have with mine.