Graduation reflections, 53 years later

Published 11:53 pm Friday, May 29, 2015

An Open Letter to 2015 Graduates:

As the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” sounded in the background, you were making your final march down the aisle at your school as a student. When you return again, you’ll be an alumni. Wow! Where did the time go? From your first day in the classroom, the days started counting down to this final moment. You are to be commended and congratulated for all you have accomplished and the awards and honors you have received during these past 12 years. Even though it is a time of great excitement, it also brings new responsibilities. Dr. Seuss penned some words of wisdom that seem appropriate to recall as you stand on the threshold of a new chapter in your life. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

And, indeed, you must decide where to go and how to get there. Sometimes the realization of all the choices you’ll be faced with is a little scary as you venture beyond the security your parents have provided, knowing they were always there to pick you up if you fell. If you plan on going away to school or just moving out, the strings that tie you to home will stretch, and you will question yourself many times about decisions you have made, and even want to return to that security, (believe it or not!!!) even if only for a fleeting moment. Suddenly you realize you are more responsible for yourself than you’ve ever been before, and with that realization comes the knowledge that you can’t go back down the road you just traveled. Time marches constantly forward, and you must always believe in yourself strongly enough to pursue your goal even though doubt may sometimes be knocking on your door. You are well prepared for what lies ahead.

The biggest piece of personal advice I will share with you is to be always careful of the choices you make and the new friends you will choose. If something, whether person, place or thing, doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Your own instincts are seldom ever wrong, and bad choices can have a lifelong effect on your life. Honesty and integrity will become your character when the main focus of your life is centered on Jesus Christ as your anchor, the One you can turn to in both good times and in bad times.

This May marks the 53rd anniversary of my own graduation from high school, and I always get a little melancholy about this time, reflecting on my life and what the years have brought. In some ways I’m sure my life hasn’t always “matched” what I might have expected that long ago Friday night, but I cannot imagine anything I could have wished for way back then that would have been greater than the life and family I’ve been given. You, too, will climb mountains high enough to reach the sky, and you will also walk through some dark valleys. However, it is in those valleys where you learn to keep your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, secure in the knowledge that He will place you on the right path and He will light the way before you.

My wish for you is that 50 years from now you can look back and be fulfilled and satisfied with your life, always experiencing an inner peace and contentment that comes only from our Heavenly Father, and secure in the knowledge of the hope of eternal salvation through Him. No amount of money or worldly success can surpass that which God has provided. I’ll leave you with that wish and share with you the words of a song that was sung to my graduation class at our Baccalaureate service. These words always come back to me about this time every year, saying in a much better way than I ever could, all that I could wish for any graduate any time. (Author’s name unknown.)

May you always walk in sunshine, slumber warm when night winds blow. May you always live with laughter, for a smile becomes you so. May good fortune find your doorway, may the bluebirds sing your song. May no trouble travel your way, may no worry stay too long. May your heartaches be forgotten, may your dreams be filled. May auld acquaintance be remembered, and your cup of kindness filled. May you always be a dreamer, may your wildest dreams come true. May you find someone to love, as much as I love you.


Carolyn Wilson