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Chimacum Commencement Address 2022

A hearty congratulations to the class of 2022! I hope you will always identify as a Chimacum Cowboy, and you always feel welcome to come home.

As part of your graduation, you are about to endure unsolicited advice for the next hour or so. I will not pile on.

I actually want to talk to your parents… and guardians, and family.

You did it!

Your young person, once your little baby, is off to adulthood! This is both wonderful and terrifying.

But you are fully prepared. In this life with this newly minted adult, you already have-

  • stayed up all night during pregnancy

  • woken up in the middle of the night to your crying infant

  • fretted about a 101 degree temperature

  • chased after a toddler running into the street

  • took the first throw in the face

  • Felt anxious the first time he asked where babies come from

  • stifled a laugh when she hurled beans across the kitchen only the first time

  • were astonished when he first asked about God, the universe, or stars

  • cried yourself to sleep after the stress of an ER visit for 12 stitches

  • made it through the first time he rode his bike out of the neighborhood

  • started her as her coach even when the other kids may have been better- it’s so subjective!

  • survived driving lessons in the school parking lot

  • survived the first time she missed curfew

  • gave him The Talk

  • Worried about Covid- masking or unmasking, vaccinating or not vaccinating, and the general depression and anxiety

  • were stoic and “understanding” when she said you couldn’t chaperone prom

Now after micromanaging what he is wearing under his graduation gown, you are thinking about tuition, his first job, packing a moving van, college graduation, marriage, being grandparent, and on it goes.

For now, just take all of this in.

The poet David Whyte wrote this coming of age aspiration for his daughter, Charlotte, now 26. I imagine you have the same hopes.

My prayer tonight for the great and hidden symmetries of life

to reward this faith I have and twin her passages of loneliness with friendship, her exiles with home coming, her first awkward steps with promised onward leaps.

May she find in all this, day or night, the beautiful centrality of pure opposites, may she discover before she grows old, not to choose so easily between past and present,

may she find in one or the other her gifts acknowledged.

And so as I helped to name her, I help to name these powers,

I bring to life what is needed, I invoke the help she’ll want

following those moonlit lines into a future uncradled by me but parented by all I call.

As she grows away from me, may these life lines grow with her, keep her safe, So with my open palm whose lines have run before her to make a safer way, I hold her smooth cheek and bless her this night into all these other unknown nights to come.

I am proud to be part of celebrating with your family.

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