Prayer of One Who Is Moving On
Guardian, Guide, no pillar of cloud by day nor fire by night,
yet I sense your presence with me, God of the journey.
You are walking with me into a new land.
You are guarding me in my vulnerable moment.
You are dwelling within me as I depart from here.
You are promising to be my peace as I face the struggles
of distance from friends and security,
the planting of feet and heart in a strange place.
Renew in me a deep trust in you. Calm my anxiousness.
As I reflect on my life I can clearly see
how you have been there in all of my leavings.
You have been there in all of my comings.
You will always be with me in everything.
I do not know how I am being resettled,
but I place my life into the welcoming arms of your love.
Encircle my heart with your peace.
May your powerful presence run like a strong thread
through the fibers of my being.
— Joyce Rupp in The Notre Dame Book of Prayer by Heidi Schlumpf
Graduating as a (Lifelong) Spiritual Practice
"Transformation holds within its wide embrace the personal renewals that come with a spiritual awakening, a conversion, a mystical epiphany, or an enlightenment." (Frederic Brussat)
Graduation is a moment of renewal, a commencement into something new. It happens to the family and friends of those who are graduating, as well as to the graduates themselves. When you graduate, your family and friends graduate with you. Sometimes the ceremony brings people together who would not otherwise be together. In this sense, at least for the moment, graduation is a holy communion of moving on.
But we ought not cling to the ceremonies too fervently, lest we forget that the process of graduating begins anew at every moment of our lives and with every stage of our lives. Every morning is a graduation from yesterday into a new day. Every evening is a graduating from the (formerly) new day into a new tomorrow. We are never not graduating; we are always already graduating -- whatever the time of day, whatever the stage of our lives.
It helps to cultivate the art of graduating. The practice involves, in the words of Frederic Brussat, " the shedding of old ways, especially those that have become burdens. This practice proclaims that no matter who you are, no matter what has already happened to you, no matter what you have done, it is still possible to be and do something new."
Some say that the possibility of being and doing something new is how the enfolding love of the universe -- God -- is present in human life. God is a reservoir of fresh possibilities, received in faith and trust and hope. If you think this way, then there is indeed an encircling presence, within us yet more than us, who gives us peace but also adventure. In a sense God is graduating with you, because God, too, is ever new at each moment. God knows what it is like to face a future not yet determined, and sometimes to be a little unsure about it.
If you don't think this way, what is most important is to recognize the reservoir, to trust in the availability of fresh possibilities, however you understand it. Call it the web of life, call it the surprise of serendipity, call it the spirit of creative transformation. Your trust in this spirit is your faith.
One of the most helpful things to do, after the commencement ceremony, is to begin the practice of creative transformation on a daily basis by shedding some old habits.
"Start by doing something different — walk to work by a new route, answer the telephone with your other than usual hand. Break a habit, any habit." (Frederic Brussat)
Let the shedding be your way of saying goodbye and thank you for what has been good in the past, and also your way of saying hello to what is to come, knowing that the future, too, will require creative transformation. Then you can graduate any and every time it is called for. You will be equipped for a journey that takes a lifetime, plus more. You will be practiced in the art of graduating.
-- Jay McDaniel