I love graduation day. The pomp and circumstance of this special day in a person’s life always speaks to me. And in the month of May, I delight in hearing who will speak as the commencement speaker at various colleges across the country.
The debate of whether or not President Obama should have spoken at Notre Dame still looms with controversy even three years later! I was impressed to read that he spoke at Joplin High School in Missouri. Just hours after last year’s graduation ceremony, the school was destroyed by a massive tornado that claimed the lives of one graduate and 160 others. He also spoke at Barnard College and most recently at the United States Air Force Academy.
Imploring them to be part of the next great “American Century,” President Obama addressed graduating cadets and their families. “I see an American Century because we have the resilience to make it through these tough economic times. … And no matter what challenges we may face, we wouldn’t trade places with any other nation on Earth,” Obama said (Denver Post). I hope these young graduates rise to the challenge.
I love to wonder, if given the opportunity, what I would impart to graduates. Considering that I have concluded the last 12 years of teaching seniors with a common message, I know exactly what I would talk about: pursuing your dreams...with a twist. In fact, the final unit in my senior elective Sports and Spirituality is related to this very topic. We study spirituality as God’s dream for us.
Understanding spirituality in this way means “letting go and letting God.” It requires discipline, prayer, being open and total trust. A very special guest speaker and friend, Frank Allocco, the head coach of De La Salle High School basketball, revealed how true this was in his own life. In the article “Lofty Dreams and Buried Blessings” he said, "As a young man, I thought I had a clear vision of what my life should be, but God had a better plan. I just had to let go and trust that He knew the way…."
Because this humble truth is both beautiful and tremendously challenging, examples are a must. We need to hear about the lived experience from others that we admire, love and trust—from Coach Allocco to your alma mater’s commencement speaker. We need assurance that the spiritual life, when lived this way may yield a dream akin to the pearl of great price.
On the last day of class, I didn’t give an address to my students. Instead I showed the NFL Films: Putting Our Best Foot Forward—David Ruffer. I hope you watch it. The moral of the story is eloquent:
Monday through Friday, David Ruffer lives his dream by attending Notre Dame. On Saturdays, he plays football.
“It wasn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing. It’s greater than anything I thought would happen.” said Ruffer.
Maybe the best dreams in life, are the ones you never had... that still come true.
For those who believe, I think this is the perfect way of explaining God’ dream for us.