Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My brother graduated last weekend along with 4500 classmates. It was a big deal with faculty parading around in their Harry Potter robes representing the institutions where they wrote their dissertations and took their last student loans. The stage was lined with flowers. Trumpets and banners announced swatches of lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers and artists, all smiling and waving to the sea of 40,000 moms, dads, siblings and friends who filled the lower bowl of the outdoor stadium where the event was held. Loved ones proudly watched from a distance, searching the mass of black robes and colored sashes for the child they remember, now officially on the brink of adulthood. Everything about the event was moving.

I spent most of my time on the concourse chasing the kids and people watching. Well-dressed spectators came and went, carrying balloons and buying lemonade, representing at least dozens of countries and languages; all proud of their respective graduates, heads high, even when shoulders sloped under the invisible burden of long hours worked to pay for education and its expensive dreams. My parents were no exception, leaning forward for hours, looking for my brother through the telephoto lens of their digital camera.

Their excitement was beautiful, speaking to me of the importance of seeing a thing through to the end. It is important that we run with perseverance the race set out before us. And on that day, when we break the tape with fists pumped in victory, they will be in the stands- parents, friends, children, watching us proudly, and with tears, even if from a distance. Even if we look like all the others receiving diplomas. Even if it takes us an extra year and costs more than we originally thought.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

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