moment #3: graduation

**This post is part 3 of 7 in counting down my most memorable moments of 2011 in no particular order…  Read here if you haven’t

I never wrote about my graduation in neither my journal or my blog. It’s surprising because it was probably one of the most significant and most memorable days of my life, let alone that of the year of 2011, and I never wrote about it.  There’s not much from the hot summer day in May 2011 other than a few pictures and a diploma.  I have vivid mental images of what happened that day, but what I felt during that season remains convoluted and lost in time.  Way too many thoughts and emotions running through, not sure how I handled it all. Being the sap that I am, I wish I had something to read back on, but I guess it means I was more occupied with living out my story rather than trying to document every detail of it; it’s not a bad thing after all.  Here goes.

May 22nd, 2011

We’re all gathered at “the corner side” of the rotunda.  It is UVA tradition that all the graduates make their walk down the lawn before seating ourselves on the south lawn for the ceremonies.  There’s balloons.  Lots and lots of them.  The weather is extremely hot for the middle of May, and it doesn’t help that we are all dressed in black caps and gowns.  I’m glad that I ditched my dress shoes this morning for my black low-cut chucks.

I’ve been here many times before: photo scavenger hunts, streaking the lawn, late nights to little johns, or even crying out praise and prayer with some of my dearest friends— but something’s different today.  There’s a different air in the atmosphere.  Everyone who took part in my story are here, looking livelier than ever.  As I look into their half-glazed eyes I wonder if they’re thinking the same thing as me… and i can’t help but wonder…

What do you do at the end of a story?  You think about how the story all began.  That’s what I did.    Mine began with a defeat. A rejection, a setback.   What once seemed impossible to overcome was now something that I had to go through in order to make me into a better person.  A stepping stone…

As I gradually walk up the stairs to the rotunda I can’t believe this is all happening.  We triumphantly turn the corner to a roar of people.  Crowds and crowds of moms, dads, teachers, all standing, roaring, and cheering.  I felt like I was part of the Lakers’ championship parade.  I strut down the lawn, blowing kisses and shaking the hands of random people a la Ron Artest.  I shout for joy and throw up my hands and there’s a jubilant bounce to my steps that cannot be explained in words.  This is it.  The grand finale. The climax.  The conclusion to what seemed a never-ending 4 year roller coaster ride.  Like a shooting star or the setting sun, we’re burning brightest in our final moment.  

… and it’s in this moment where I can’t help but wonder if this is what it’s going to be like at the end of all things.  Thousands of stories funneling together,  along with the company of those that have been there and have already gone cheering us on– 

This is it.  This is the moment.  An end of a long story.  A pretty good one, to say the least.  Mine began a little later than others, but this is the moment where all our stories collide.  Our stories with different anchors that tell different tales, and point to different destinations.  In this moment, to think that my script is any more significant than that of someone sitting next to me is just downright pride.  Mine was of redemption, struggle, faithfulness– authored by someone, somewhere out there who knew exactly what He was doing every step of the way.  

The end of a story.  A beginning of another.

No matter how much I enjoy a season in my life, there will always come a time when I’ll have to let it go. I’m stubbornly sentimental at times and I struggle with this way too much.   Life is about learning how to lose.  Learning how to die.  I don’t want to live overly emotional, caught up in the helpless nature of the finality of things.  I want to live fully present in the here and now.   A story is being written every moment of my life and I want to be fully immersed in all of what it entails.  I am here.  I am here and I’m not alone.