Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Letter, Looking Back

Dear 2011-2012 Service-Learning Center student staff:

This post is in some ways very poorly timed, given that it is the end of the academic year, and I highly doubt that even the most devoted of S-LC staff have traded in bike riding, park picnics, and fun in the sun for minding the blog updates. Nevertheless, I hope that if/when you discover this post, it will be of some blessing to you in the time of transition, uprooting, and general kerfuffle that accompanies the end of a school year. I’d particularly like to address the new graduates (although I hope that my words will speak just as well to the rest of you) and I’d also like to thank you for indulging me with the opportunity to reflect a bit on the journey since my own graduation one year ago, and how it is still being shaped by concepts from our 2010-2011 Staff Covenant. Although I could write about each patch of the covenant in turn, one in particular is beginning to surface: continuous beginnings.

Looking back, I realize that the end of the school year can be anything from exciting to routine to traumatic – it all depends on the individual.

As a student, you live for nine months enmeshed in the rhythm of the tick-tocks and tasks that crank the wheels of the academic lifecycle. The momentum of final projects, exams, theses, and preparations for What Comes Next keeps you moving right up to the eleventh hour when, suddenly, like the bird in a cuckoo clock, you’re propelled through the exit door into great, big Outside World. You pitch head first through thin air as the world shouts, “Congratulations!” and the next moment, the spring snaps and you’re flown right into what was always known as The Future, but which has suddenly and unrelentingly become Now. (Meanwhile, the hands continue to tick mercilessly forward as though nothing has happened.)
The question now is whose clock are you running on?

School, which previously lent the security of steady progression and a certain familiarity with What Comes Next, has finished. You’ve flown the coop, left the cuckoo clock’s prescriptive pace behind.

 Are you feeling a little out of place?

Thankfully, you aren’t a mere cuckoo bird without a rhythm. The good news is that you’ve still got a rhythm, and a soul and an identity. What I mean is that although you may have ended one chapter in life, you are still very firmly planted, securely, right in the middle of exactly where you need to be. Despite this Ending, you are still in the Middle of something greater, and also approaching a new Beginning (just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there). And the best news, most importantly, is that you are still you. The you that was on the inside of that exit door is the same you that is now hovering on the outside. Sure, over the next bit you might find that you have to fight harder, yell louder, and re-arrange a lot of the trappings inside that beautiful mind of yours. The changes might shake and rattle you. And sometimes, it might feel as though the only thing that is happening is… nothing at all. But these, the fits, starts, and periods of seeming stagnation – all these Ends, Beginnings, and Middles, in other words – are all sewn together in fabric much bigger than any one of us can see.

And nevertheless and all the while, the great God who has brought you this far, whether you realize it or even believe it, will continue to lovingly and mysteriously guide you, always.

I can’t think of a better conclusion except to borrow the words of a wise S-LC director: “Go forward now, without fear.”

Be well.
At your service,

Ashley Pace