Today was one of those red letter days that you remember for years. Among several events that all happened today, our oldest grandson, Connor, went through the commencement ceremony at Mohawk Elementary School in Carmel this afternoon. He is finishing the fifth grade and next year will be entering the middle school, even closer to our home. Of course, there was the obligatory commencement address by a rather well known former pro basketball player (of course, this is Indiana) and several other short speeches by teachers and the principal of the school.
The whole event brought back memories of when I graduated from Sutherland Elementary School on the southside of Chicago. Back then, graduation occurred at the end of 8th grade, before you entered high school as a freshman. In mid spring, the teachers compared notes and report cards and we had class ribbons that were then awarded in order of scholastic ranking. Our school colors were maroon and white and boys wore their ribbons pinned to the outside of their pant pocket, while the women wore their ribbons near their collars on the blouses that were mandatory in the public school system at that time.
As luck would have it, I had done very well in history class and that was the thing that put me over the top as the class valedictorian. I remember how I felt as I was the first one in the 8th grade to get my ribbons – 1 week ahead of the next group that joined me the following Friday. Of course, I also was able to speak to our class and to this day, I don’t remember much of what I said. I know my mother was there, but I don’t recall my father being present at the graduation. Then again, especially back then, fathers usually worked and didn’t normally attend stuff like that – at least at our school.
I also remember our class picture and the exact layout of the auditorium, which was separate and distinct from the gymnasium that was at the other end of the school. How rare that it today. Of course, I remembered all the teachers I had through my whole elementary experience – even down to the day that Mrs. Longfield, our second grade teacher, was crying in class – her dog having died the afternoon before. Half of us were crying because she seemed to be so sad… and we really loved her. I also remember the air raid drills and the preparation we had to go through – practicing in case there was an attack by the Russians.
Summarizing all of this, little did I realize how my life would turn out. How different from how I imagined it as a kid. And I couldn’t help but think of the same thing with Connor today. Whatever he thinks now will undoubtedly be quite different from the vantage point he will have 50 years from now. Sometimes I wish that I had it to do all over again – but then again, all in all it has been an awesome ride and it’s not nearly over.
The verse for tonight is a special verse for Connor – from Jer. 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s such an encouragement – hope and a future – from God Himself. My encouragement this evening is that God has provided a future for all of us – an eternal future for those who love Him. My prayer is that God will give each of us a long, healthy, productive life centered around the fact that He created each of us for a specific purpose. My fondest hope is that Connor and all the other members of his generation realize the best that God has in store for them. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… And, congratulations Connor!