Graduation: Death and Resurrection
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Luke 24:36-37
Last week, my son moved out of his fraternity house. After four years at the University of Kansas, after completing the many celebrations, and after the honors and congratulatory hugs, it was time to move on. When I asked this ever-optimistic young man about it, he declared it a sad day. He said goodbye to the Beta house and to the 22 members of his pledge class, and while he will undoubtedly see both again, it will not be the same. Although Reid was ready to move on, there was a somber sense of nostalgia that lingered, as is often the case whenever we move from one phase of life to another.
We are not always ready for the graduations of our lives. Some just happen in the normal course of living. Some are expected, while others catch us unprepared. College, for my son, was a four-year experience. That was the way it was planned, and that was the way it happened. He did not necessarily seek a life change, nor did he seek to avoid it. The change just happened, and the end came quickly enough that perhaps it caught him off guard. Many milestones in our lives are that way: marriages, job changes, health challenges, the losses of loved ones. Ready or not, we “die” to one phase of life and are born into another – like Jesus, we are resurrected into a new version of our world.
Starting over can be exciting and it can be hard – both at the same time. I remember the transition from elementary to middle school: transitioning from the biggest, smartest, and most in-control in the school to being the smallest, dumbest, and least in-control – at least that was how it felt. When our surroundings change there will be a degree of discomfort. Moving on due to a graduation of some sort, however, should also involve moving up. We find ourselves in a new situation, but with the knowledge and experience gained from the past. We are changed, and we will never be the same.
It is interesting how Jesus, following his crucifixion and resurrection, appeared to his disciples a number of times and was usually not recognized. It was Jesus, but it was the resurrected Jesus – the graduated Jesus, if you will. I imagine it was similar to seeing a formerly close friend one has not seen for many years. We must look twice and consider carefully to remember who this is and in what context we knew them. The person has changed, although vestiges of their past remain. We are products of our many graduations. Life moves on and invites us to do the same. Death and rebirth are the cycles of life, as inescapable as the cycles of day and night, winter and spring. It is life, and though sometimes sad, life is good.
May our graduations, deaths, and resurrections carry us to ever higher levels of being!