Graduation Reflection

I believe it was Yogi Berra who said “It was déjà vu all over again.”  Last night we attended Christopher’s graduation from graduate school at Canisius College. It was a milestone event, but especially so as it really does not seem all that long ago I was graduating from seminary with my newly minted Master’s degree and was ready to change (or at least get the notice of) the world. The world has not changed and most of it never noticed – but I changed and noticed.

It is a delight to see this young man get ready to move on to the next stage – a 10 month internship at Harvard and his first experience of being out on his own. I have always looked to the future. My vision is on what can be, what may be, and what I can do to help it happen. But here I was in Buffalo at the Canisius College athletic center watching my youngest son begin his career, and thinking back on my own.

The commencement speaker was fine and she had one point she left the graduates with “Leave everything better than you found it.” I have no quarrel with that. But what might I have told Chris that I have learned from my own life?

  • Don’t get caught up in the trap of wanting to be important. I got the important job I always wanted and found it was not at all what I wanted nor was I good at it.
  • Failure is a negative only if you do not learn from it.
  • One only gets a few good friends – nurture that relationship and treasure them – so many others are “friendlyships” not friendships. There is a surface relationship but no depth you can count on long term or in a pinch.
  • Know yourself and build on what you do well. Trying to strengthen weaknesses doesn’t really work very well while building on strengths gets you much farther along.
  • Don’t compromise what you value even for money.

Déjà vu all over again… recalling where I was, and where I am. But enough of that! It is time for Chris, for me, for all of us, to look at and work on where we want to go.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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