Seniors, as you leave us remember life is a journey. Enjoy it. It will have its ups and downs, its twists and turns, but value the journey and you will pull through. Some around you will put all sort of value on titles but remember that life’s truly great titles are the simple ones – dad, friend, brother, mate – and that many a king and leader wished they were remembered for these and not wars or other matters of state.
You will make mistakes for no-one is perfect, but better the risking and the failing than trying not at all. You will be hurt in love, but better to have risked love than grown old wishing. As you journey, may you come to know that the earth is your mother. Be gentle with it, caress it, listen to it and learn to love it, if not for your sake, then for your children and their children.
As you journey you will need a compass; make honesty a compass point. Honesty is often hard and you will be tempted to take the easier path, but really there is no other way. All around you, you will see those who live by plastic pleasures and you will be tempted to do the same – march to your own drum. Don’t die with the music, your music, inside you! You will have times of hurt and anger, disappointment and betrayal, even with those you love, but never close the door of your home nor of your heart; it is never too late to forgive and you are a long time dead. In all that you do be gentle with yourself; the hardest journey is the journey inward and the hardest hurdle is to forgive yourself. But both the hurdle and the journey are worth it.
Take one step at a time. As you journey you will see violence and war and many will reach for the gun as the solution, but remember that the Gospel reminds us that the open hand will always win out over the clenched fist. Many a war and conflict is fuelled by fear of difference. Fear not difference, it is the bearer of wisdom and your enemy is just the friend you have not met yet. Wrap your life in simple pleasures – too many are lost living someone else’ life or dream. As you journey you will meet the bitter and the twisted, but never mock love; the cynic and the bully crave each other’s company.
Your feelings are a compass too. Do not shackle feeling; neither be afraid to cry nor to laugh. Trust friendship before the share market and integrity before false pleasure. Judge no-one for your ego will always look for a battle where there is none to be won. Value yourself just as you are and leave the rat race, appearance and status for the shallow and the lost. Set yourself high goals that stretch your inner self and you will always have a bounce in your step and a sparkle in the eye. Share a beer or wine with friends, but let the reason always be the sharing and the friendship. Don’t waste too much time looking for answers; live life and enjoy the questions.
Put family before promotions, friendship before perks, relationships before envy. I lost my dad when I was 17 and I was not there by his bed – never leave unsaid what needs to be said, nor leave undone what needs to be done. You will not come this way again. On your journey, when you are in doubt, take risks and hug and love. Nurture self-discipline and remember to keep balance in all things. Honour your body and the bodies of other; you truly are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. Cultivate compassion and make the hallmark of your life how you treated others, especially the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. Never buy an ‘if only’ T-shirt.
But in all of this, as you journey, always remember that you never, never walk alone. no matter what you do or fail to do your God is there walking beside you and will always, always, always love you.
Thanks for great memories and well done!
[Written for the Graduation Class of 2007]