Sunday, May 8, 2011

graduation. and beyond.

My little sister, Ellen, graduated from college today. I am still in a bit of shock from the idea that my sister...5 years younger than I, could possibly be done with her college career. After all, I just finished my college years, right?

As I celebrated with Ellen, shared in her accomplishments and even listened to her turn a phrase as she presented her class' history at the Meredith Class Day, I got wrapped up in all the tradition of that special place. Much like a wedding (you knew I would tie it in somehow), there were certain players assigned specific lines, particular moments that had been dreamt of and hope for. For these alumnae of Meredith those moments are connected to corn, odds vs. evens, crooks (as in belonging to shepherd's not thieves), daisies, charms and especially that precious onyx. And while Meredith had its own flavor of traditions, I noticed a few that were reminiscent of my dear ol' Wofford: the turning of the class ring, the presentation of a Bible at graduation and even photos by a fountain. The pomp and circumstance of these moments is all tied end to the ending of such a rich time of life. But, the news is good...the grass is not greener; it is just different on the other side.

Your friendships change--in your day-to-day relationships but certainly not in their value, your goals become clarified, your sense of self is defined. And at the end of the next five years, you'll look back in bewilderment at where five more years have led you.

I imagine that is what a 5-, 10-, 25-year wedding anniversary is like: fondness over the memories of years past as well as a sense of bewilderment about how exactly you got to where you are. As you prepare for your next steps, my dear sister...I hope you'll remember these words from our family's favorite poet:

you have brains in your head

you have feet in your shoes* (when you wear shoes)

you can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

on and on you will hike.

and I know you'll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.

you're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

your mountain is waiting.

So...get on your way!

hold on to the joy, good and tight --- and know that I'm dark days or light!

Happy Graduation and Beyond, Ellen Frances!

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