“One day it will please us to remember even this.”
Virgil, The Aeneid
Graduation is always poignant for me. It is especially so this year.
This last weekend my eldest daughter graduated from Christendom College, where I am a professor of philosophy. I have taught her and her friends, among others, for the last four years.
At times such as this, one is drawn, and I think fittingly, to consider the bigger things in life. A couple of things especially struck me this weekend, and I tried to express them to some of my students and their families in a toast. I will briefly set them forth here.
Change is almost always hard, especially when it means leaving behind something that has been very precious. Parenting, and teaching, fundamentally involve leaving precious things behind. And this precisely because parenting and teaching seek to bring about change.
But this does not mean that the things left behind are not valued in themselves. Parenting and teaching are natural contexts for making connections of the deepest sort—connections in and through the process of becoming ourselves. On both sides.
I say to my graduates: no one else will ever quite understand what we did together in that classroom. And even more to the point, no one can ever take it away from us. What we did had a deeply enduring and indeed timeless quality to it. It will always be what it was, and it will always remain with us, especially because it concerned deep and unchanging truths—though we were changed as we began to see these truths together.
Similarly, we parents look back at the preciousness of earlier times, of when our children were younger, and we mourn the passing of what is no more. Even though there were very difficult moments, a retrospective glance can put all in a good perspective.
Because we were together, and we were striving to grow, and our efforts were blessed, we will hold these times as a precious memory. And indeed, it will please us to recall how blessed we are that we shared these times together.
Image: my eldest and my youngest