I am preparing to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from high school tomorrow (read: I am a wreck). Tensions are high. Reflections are many. Conversations are, well, just strange. The destination is the tearful and sloppy “We’re proud of you … we love you … thank you” that we will experience tomorrow. The journey is not as simple.
I was thinking this morning about how this graduation is a shared milestone; then, I realized that phrase is redundant. All milestones are shared. We have instinctively known and celebrated that fact since ancient times. Rites of passage are for the individual. Rites of passage are for the family. Rites of passage are for the community. With every major rite of passage, there are minor ones that are associated. In this case, the graduate is entering a new phase of life; the parents are entering a new phase of life; the community is receiving its new members. It’s like tilling the soil between the dying of a crop and the next planting; and tilling is hard work.
One thing I have learned in my own experience is that if a rite of passage is not fully embraced and celebrated, if it is not done right, sputtering and stumbling follow. The individual, the family and the community will embrace and celebrate the rite differently. Somehow, I alternate between feeling prepared and feeling ambushed. It isn’t like I didn’t know this was coming. I am filled with the fear that I’m not doing this right. And there is the mother’s mantra.
As I type this post, Tracy Chapman sings in the background, “I’m ready. I’m ready/I’m ready to let the/ rivers wash over me.” It’s from a playlist my daughter created. Okay, then. I’m ready too. That doesn’t mean I can or will be “together” tomorrow (I am praying for at least a scintilla of dignity, however!). It just means in the midst of our tears, there will be release and celebration. And indescribable joy. It’s time to plant. Or go with the flow. Pick your analogy. It’s time for all of us to move. You too.
I can say I have done my best. I can also say my best wasn’t very good all the time. Where I have failed, she has shined. Where I have failed, she will forgive. Where I have failed, I have also loved. Always. Continue reading