Today will undoubtedly include a little drama. And that’s okay. It’s the good kind of drama. But it will take a toll all the same. Today marks the end.
Sometimes we look forward to the end. Other times we dread it. But whether the end is joyfully anticipated or feared, it often (maybe even usually) brings a little sadness. Yes, some endings are cloaked in hurt and pain and tears: death, loss, divorce. We have to search diligently for the silver linings with those darker endings.
But many other endings are dressed up with confetti and regalia and balloons and buffets of our favorite foods. We eat cake and turn up the music and laugh and snap photos. We celebrate the ending because it accompanies accomplishment or endurance or both. We breathe a sigh of relief and relax our shoulders.
Still, even with the most joyful endings, we usually feel a little sadness. We sit across the table with a favorite friend while we sip our final cups of coffee together. We write messages fat with meaning in each other’s year books. We give sentimental gifts with hopes they will be cherished. We force ourselves to say all those things we felt all along but neglected to put into words. We hug tight and embrace the memories we’ll always share. We show up for that final party and blink away the occasional tears when we look around the room and realize we’ll never be here again. And we’ve been here for so long we can’t imagine what that will feel like.
Even the best of endings…the ones we anticipate and work towards and reward and celebrate…even those extraordinary endings bring some tears, a few lumps in our throat, a queasy unrest.
Thus, the drama ensues. Our emotions swing to either end of the pendulum at the most unexpected moments. In the middle of the celebration, tears spring up. And because so many hearts and souls are linked together in this circle of celebration, sometimes we pull others with us in our emotional extremes…and we all fall down in a heap…first of tears and then laughter. We’re a mess really. But it’s all okay, because it’s just part of the ending we’ve anticipated with such passion for so very long. We must give ourselves some grace. And we must give each other even more.
In case you haven’t figured this out, my daughter Abigail graduates from college today. This afternoon we will gather in Centennial Hall for her graduation from the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film and Television. Her class of just fifteen acting and musical theatre students will perform together for a final time, singing “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. Then Abigail will walk across a stage and receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance. This evening we will all gather in 100 degree heat in the Arizona Stadium for a huge celebration, complete with light shows and fireworks.
She’ll get one final picture of her class together, this time in their graduation regalia. Abby has grown closer and more connected to her classmates than most. Most of these five men and ten young women have spent every single day together for four years (a few transferred into the program a little later). As Abigail explained yesterday, they have developed somewhat of a sibling mentality toward one another over those years. They have bickered and hurt each others’ feelings and poked fun at one another as brothers and sisters would. But they have also held each other up, cried on each other’s shoulders, laughed together, grown up together, developed their skills together and prayed for one another. They have been each other’s constant. And tomorrow they will all go in separate directions: some to New York, others to California, one or two to Chicago, at least one to the high seas on a cruise ship…and Abby to Atlanta.
They are taking their final bows. They are saying their goodbyes. The end has come.
But, while endings are always hard, even when they are much anticipated and celebrated, they always bring along one significant benefit: we have the opportunity to begin again. And beginnings, while equally scary and emotional, are always full of potential and hope.
If you have experienced an ending recently, you may be in the middle of the drama. Give yourself some grace. Be sure to give others plenty of grace, too. They are riding your wave of emotions with you. But keep in mind that with the end comes the beautiful opportunity to begin again. Even if you did not welcome this particular ending, you will indeed begin again. Approach your ending with hope and determination, faith and the blessed assurance that God has a plan and He is at work bringing it about. The end is always an opportunity to begin again.
I love you, Abby, and I’m so proud of you. You are saying goodbye to a beautiful, albeit dramatic, chapter of your life. But now you begin again. And God is doing beautiful things in your life. I can’t wait to see where He takes you!
One last important thing. All the above photos, with the exception of the photo of Abby’s class, were taken by my son Daniel. He amazes me 🙂