Benedictio: For my students
You arrived at the University on a brilliant fall day, with your bike in a box. I watched your mother carry the desk-lamp, trailing its cord, and the laundry bag of clean clothes, watched her wrestle the box of shoes and surge-protectors up the stairs. She looked at you with confidence and pride, and when she looked away, her face tightened against tears.
You arrived in spring on a day of rain-showers, alone and wary, unimaginably far from home. From open windows in Benton Hall, a trumpet climbed the musical scale, up and up. Rhododendrons bent under heavy buds; maybe you knew the weight of that expectation. Maybe you had seen those same shining leaves on the other side of the ocean, trembling to a different musical scale.
In a September rain-squall, you arrived with your brother and a photo album you protected under your coat. Students with name-tags crowded to meet you. They swept you up, loading your stuff onto a push-cart. When you disappeared through the door of the dorm, your brother shrugged and drove away, turning up the volume on the stereo. Then you were back in the doorway again, watching him go.
Maybe you’re surprised how closely your professors watched you come and, now at graduation, how intently we watch as you leave. Do you have any idea how desperately we believe in you? If there is hope to be found for this beautiful, bewildering world, it will be in your decisions.Wherever you go, may you find good work of real substance–not to buy your dream car, because that will not satisfy you or your obligations–but to be creative and caring, so that when you come to the end of your time, you can say, this life was a great gift to me and I have returned the gift in full.
May you be completely, incurably, joyously curious. May you live with an open mind and an open heart, understanding that there are many ways to come to know, many ways to be a human being, many ways to love the world.
May you be delighted by other people’s joy and saddened by the sorrow of strangers.
May you have the courage to make your life an expression of what you believe is true and good and beautiful, resisting what is easy, resisting what others press on you, rejecting what is degraded and shameful. When the time comes, as it will, may you have the strength to say, this is not the way I live.
May you be generous and just, knowing that your personal well-being depends on healthy communities and inventive cultures, knowing that your life depends on thriving ecological systems–the winds and rivers and fresh fields that sustain us, body and soul.
May you take comfort in the constancy of the earth, daylight and moonlight, meadow and forest, the healing water, the reliable return of frogsong and soft rain. May you be forever surprised by its mystery and grace.
May you be grateful and glad.
May you live responsibly, knowing that your decisions, large and small, shape the future for people you will never meet, creating a new world where children will dance in the doorway or cower in hunger and fear.
The world cries out. May you be one who answers.
Copyright © 2012, Kathleen Dean Moore