Well, it happened. My university invited students, families, professors and friends to unite and create a weekend of temporary places throughout campus and the city. These were places of reunion, reflection, celebration and, ultimately, the conferral of a degree for each student’s completed course of study. This invitation created an incredible pull which brought people (with means) from all over the world to join each other for a brief moment and to give legitimacy to the ceremony of graduation. It was excellent.
My family seven united in Richmond in order to celebrate my achievements as well as to enjoy each other’s company on this incredible weekend. As it was also Mother’s Day, the reunion of graduation assumed even more significance to my family and others. In some amazing way, the presence of my family on this day allowed me to love my college experience because it had been shared with those I love. The temporary place of Graduation, while nostalgic, is also intended to become even more powerful a memory than those considered on that day. Now, the place of Graduation in my memory has truly become the culmination of life that many hoped it would be.
Perhaps the most significant place during this process was a small patch of grass beside Ryland Hall. It was here that my thesis adviser met my family including my parents and my 93-year-old grandfather. To me, this was a place of Healing because my grandfather and parents are the reasons why I was empowered to attend college, but they did not know what I would eventually learn. In four years, I wrote many papers and had many conversations that they would not agree with and developed passions that seem impractical. Often during this time, I viewed college as more of an implicit rebellion than a submission to my grandfather’s provision. Despite this attitude, I worked hard and developed relationships with people like Dr. Brandenberger who watched me grow. When Dr. Brandenberger met my grandfather, he made the comment that I got my money’s worth. He couldn’t have chosen a better person with which to share that news.
As I now (appropriately) reflect on the place of Graduation, I realize that it was a different place for each participant and now exists as many different memories in each person who attended. For some, it was perhaps another place of loneliness and for others I believe it was an inconsequential celebration that they felt they deserved. For me, it was a place of redemption and celebration, not of my achievements, but of the blessing it is to have a family that can create such a place of love anywhere in the world. The milestone served its purpose and I truly believe that I have completed more than I ever imagined I would in four years. Now that I am done, I stand on the past and look forward to the places I will create with other people in the future. I know not where or with whom but I know that I will be committed and active in the process of creating meaningful places.
It is exciting, indeed.