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Commencement Address June 18, 2021

Never waste a perfectly good crisis.

These are words to live by. You see, there will never be a shortage of true crises in your life. And, by definition, they aren’t planned, nor are they easy to resolve. In fact, they may never be resolved, but they can be accepted and integrated into who you are becoming.

The challenges of that past few years have often felt like crises piled on top of crises.

· Climate change induced wildfires, heat waves, and melting polar ice.

· Revelations that racism has never left, but we just see it more clearly.

· Oh, and a pandemic.

These great human challenges are threats to our existence- or at least the existence of some of us. And they do not feel solvable because they are bigger than any one of us.

Never waste a perfectly good crisis.

Now is your time to do what you can do to be better and, ultimately, happier. To be more self-aware, to be present for others, to say please and thank you, and to volunteer in your church. To grow into the good person you want to be. In our pain during a crisis we are gifted most productive time to learn and grow and to develop our biggest life questions- the ones that force us to stop what we are doing and be with them.

When life goes wrong or you get hurt, people will tell you, “things happen for a reason”. I don’t buy it. But, we can make meaning out of the things that happen. When we come to that place in the dark forest, we can ask questions, seek to understand, and let those thoughts steep for a good long time.

Never waste a perfectly good crisis.

This is a poem called Sometimes by David Whyte

Sometimes if you move carefully through the forest, breathing like the ones in the old stories, who could cross a shimmering bed of leaves without a sound, you come to a place whose only task is to trouble you with tiny but frightening requests, conceived out of nowhere but in this place beginning to lead everywhere. Requests to stop what you are doing right now, and to stop what you are becoming while you do it, questions that can make or unmake a life, questions that have patiently waited for you, questions that have no right to go away.

Congratulations! May you go into the adult world and find happiness and fulfilment, and may your most important questions never leave you.

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