“Your life is something opaque, not transparent, as long as you look at it in an ordinary human way. But if you hold it up against the light of God’s goodness, it shines and turns transparent, radiant, and bright. And then you ask yourself in amazement: Is this really my own life I see before me?” These words of Albert Schweitzer describe well the transformational nature of the Archmere experience for our students. Combining a strong academic curriculum with an environment that is shaped by an intentional focus on spirituality creates opportunities for students to explore deeply the meaning of life events, which include challenges and triumphs.
There is a web site called “Graduation Wisdom” that lists top ranked graduation speeches, quotes, and idea suggestions for speeches. Just scrolling through the site, I found a number of short, pithy sayings that are all pieces of good advice to share with our Class of 2016 graduates. However, I believe that all the messages could be summed up in Schweitzer’s suggestion of allowing God’s goodness to be reflected through you.
I remember my graduation from Archmere, which took place 40 years ago on June 6, 1976. At that time, commencement exercises were held at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, PA, because we did not have a theatre and previous years’ graduations that were held on the back lawn of the Patio often had to be moved to a very warm, un-air conditioned field house due to the weather. It was especially memorable because my father, who died two weeks before my grade school graduation four years earlier, was committed to providing excellent educational opportunities for his sons. My mother, as a widow on a fixed income, made sure that I had the opportunity to attend Archmere and go onto college. Her life was a living example of so many “Graduation Wisdom” sayings, including “Step up when times are toughest”, “Find someone to help you paddle”, “Keep moving forward; know that life is not fair”, and “Never, ever give up!” But I believe that her life was a reflection of her faith and of God’s goodness.
So each year, as we hold graduation ceremonies, I think about all of the current graduates and the stories they could tell about their individual paths that led them to this milestone moment, one that they will not forget. I am sure they share similar stories of family sacrifices, overcoming obstacles, and feeling grateful to have had the opportunity to study and learn. Sometimes, during the ordinary days in between the celebratory ones, we tend to forget how blessed we are with the gifts and talents we are meant to develop and use for the benefit of others. We can forget our own potential, but through prayer and good works we rediscover the radiance and brightness of our lives. Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2016, and may the life journeys for our returning students and the members of the incoming freshman Class of 2020 be safe and productive ones through these summer days, until we begin together a new school year in August.