Hmmm, Re-ReadinG My Old College Diploma

Another season for college graduations. For the diplomas which proudly attest to all the years and lessons needed to reach this day. One wonders how many of us watching the ceremony can admit we lost almost as much as we gained from those four years….?

With each new book read and course passed, we gathered up what our professors and our culture defined as knowledge & truth. And surely we believed “the truth shall make us free.”

But here’s the funny thing. There was a trade-off taking place.The more knowledge & truth that fills your life, the less room there may be for what filled it before. In the case of our youthful ignorance, the trade-off was a good one. After all, ignorance in a democracy is fertile grounds for lies, deceits, false gods and cunning tyrants.

However, there was another trade-off taking place. The more knowledge & truth taking root, the less room left for the young virtues of awe and wonder, mystery and belief, angels and leprechauns

Let’s be clear here. This is not a plea for eternal childhood. St Paul said it well: “Now that I am a man I have put away the things of a child…” Victor Herbert sang it well: “Childhood — once you cross its borders, you can ne’er go back again…”

And yet, isn’t here’s some genetic tug that has us yearn for what we’ve lost the longer we’ve lost it? Isn’t it the daunting dawning at the sunset of life that what was ours at the sunrise may have been our richest treasure of them all?

Citizen Kane whispered for his childhood “Rosebud.” Jesus himself said: “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as them that the kingdom of God belongs.”

This bridge from childhood to adulthood we call life extends over the valley of time from its first bricks all the way to these last few stones. Yet it is all one bridge. Those of us attending the graduation ceremonies have by now learned how life only starts to make sense looking backwards, and yet has to be lived going forwards.

Which is perhaps why we hug our graduate so tightly. In that embrace, we may be trying to pass the experience of age on to the eagerness of youth. Just possibly the very best moment of the day…

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