Tis the season for college/graduate school graduations. Our friend John and Chieko’s daughter graduated from Duke this week. Next week is the commencement of the UST undergraduates; our law students graduated last Saturday. On that same day my cousin’s daughter Nicolette will graduate from Marist college.
As we congratulation these young men and women on the achievements of their school years, we bless them as we send them off to find their place in God’s plan.
Today I pray for them all this adaptation of a Franciscan blessing:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love this day, and forever more. Amen.
With the end of May come several changes that will impact my life. Two fall in the category of pretty darn major changes.
St. Ignatius Retreat House, my spiritual home for many years, will close its doors for good tomorrow. The place I did my training in retreat house ministry, the place I both attended and gave many retreats and other programs, the place I had so many experiences of God and so many “favorite” spots to sit and pray, will be no more.
At the same time, Chato Hazelbaker, one of my closest friends at the law school and my “go-to” person when I want to talk something out or get feedback on an idea (not to mention his contributions to our spiritual formation programs at the law school) not only will leave the school, but is moving to the Pacific Northwest. I have no lack of security about the ability of our friendship to survive the distance, but his new location is not exactly convenient for morning coffee conversations.
These kind of transitions are not easy for us. We tend to want to get things organized and in place and have them stay that way. I have the people around me I need, the places in my life that help center me, etc. So I ought to be able to just have things go merrily and comfortably along.
But that’s not the way it goes. People move (or die). Places close (or simply change character). We never are really settled.
Buddhists would speak in terms of our need to recognize impermanence – that everything changes moment by moment – and to see that our attachment to the way things (or people) are only creates suffering. That is a truth that transcends Buddhism and is a useful reminder for all of us.
I recognize that truth, but I’m still sad at both of these (although in the latter case, I’m enormously happy for Chato). For me, the way to deal with that sadness is to spend some time giving thanks for the gift of St. Ignatius Retreat House and for Chato. I have been (and continue to be) enormously blessed by them.