Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My prayer for all recent graduates...and for one graduate in particular

OPEN HOUSE SEASON. The end of May and beginning of June is graduation open house season. We’ve been attending open houses of church kids and Molly’s friends. On Sunday evening, we hosted Molly’s open house with more than 150 guests. I enjoy looking at the photos and awards and mementos—hard evidence of grace at work in these precious lives.

STEP FORWARD, LEAD US! High School graduation is a gracious passage to mark and celebrate. Graduates all seem so confident and invincible. Those of us thirty-plus years removed do well to admire, commend, and encourage them in their pursuits. Our world needs those who will dream dreams and valiantly attempt to reshape it. Everyone who sees a need for change and imagines transformation as a possibility: oh, please, step forward and lead us!

BE THE CHANGE. I carry around in my VW Beetle a little notebook given me by a volunteer organization. On its cover is a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Gandhi lived the change he wanted to see. He did not just talk about it, did not just lash out at the powers of domination. He became the kind of person--and took on the manner of living--that he wanted all of India to become. He became a person and they a people who won freedom by spiritual power and peace by nonviolence. Before he was assassinated, Gandhi saw, however briefly, the change which he embodied.

GO FOR CHANGING THE WORLD. Graduates: before you settle for personal success, or a job in a corporation you’ve been told is respectable, or great salaries, or mere public recognition, why not go for changing the world? Why settle for success when you might have saved a part of the world, or prevented the rest of us from further robbing others of their birthright by our sheer addictions to greed, pleasure, energy, consumerism, materialism, and worn-out ideologies? Don’t accept things as they are; dare to change them. Don’t end up repeating the age-old mistakes that, for all their veneer of permanence and pomp, have run the world into a divisive quagmire again and again. Be the change you hope to see. We are looking to you for inspiration.

INHERITED AUDACITY. I write very little about my dad. But I’ve notice that one thing I have inherited from him is the audacity to think and act as if, with what I know, what I have been given and what I can do, I can impact some aspects of history in a positive way. Dad and I may be poles apart when it comes to conceiving of what needs to be changed and how. But we share a discontent with simply watching from the sidelines, marking time blithely, or assuming it’s up to someone else. There is in both of us a palpable “seize the day” nerve that propels us not infrequently to charge in—sometimes recklessly and foolishly—where angels fear to tread.

BAPTIZING NERVE IN LOVE. If such nerve is gift, it is a gift that must be continuously baptized in the fires of transcendent love. Gandhi had nerve. He had audacity. But he also had a deepening wisdom and love that disciplined, gentled, and directed his sense of being an agent of change in the world. You might say his stubbornness and outspokenness were constructively directed through a widely-organized nonviolent resistance that ultimately disintegrated England’s iron-fisted power over India and birthed a freedom that continues to emerge.

MY PRAYER FOR MOLLY. I pray such audacity seasoned with love for all recent graduates, and for one graduate in particular—for Molly. I know Molly will not dwell on the sidelines, in the shadows. She has shined in leading roles in school musicals, sang solos in the best choirs, achieved all that can be achieved academically, and played ferocious defense on the soccer field in the state’s toughest conference. It is not a question of “if” but “how” her light will shine in the world. May grace and love season capacity and audacity that the change she longs to see--and that we desperately need--she will be.

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