The Mass was lovely and all music and readings and presentation of the gifts were done by siblings and family members of the graduates. The graduates each spoke, dividing their overall presentation into 4 themes and each speaking on one. Then Father gave the commencement address. He spoke about his gratitude and respect for homeschooling families and about what he feels is their primary witness...the witness to the beauty and sanctity of life. Looking around the church, I knew what he said was true. The place was filled with the joy, generosity and sacrifice of family. A little sister sings for her brother as he graduates. An 18-year old son holds his 1 month old sibling as he prepares to take his first steps beyond his family home. A young woman thanks her older sisters for mentoring her and loving her all these years. Her voice cracks in the microphone and a tear falls as she remembers the math lessons given so lovingly by her grandfather.
And then the moment comes when I can't stop my own tears...
Each graduate is announced and stands before the congregation as his mother and father come forward to present his diploma. All of those years of struggle and victory, sacrifice and joy, sorrow and celebration, encapsulated in this one moment. That moment inspires me incredibly, allows me a glimpse into the future and reminds me that all the challenges come to a great purpose.
I recognize that tears can be a gift because they express a profound movement of heart. They mean that I'm not cold to suffering or beauty in life. However, in about 5 years I'm going to be one of those proud mothers and I hope to walk front and center with a bit of composure. I would give a great deal to approach my son with one lone, glistening and significant tear and leave the blubbering to my husband's shoulder late at night in the privacy of my home! Perhaps, by that time, I'll be hardened by a desire to see my delightful son out the door asap! But I seriously doubt it.
The graduation ceremony concluded with a community Act of Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which I managed to squeak out through my constricted vocal chords. Such a perfect way to bring this event to a close. Every one of those mothers knows to her core that her entire motherhood and homeschool rests in His hands. They have plumbed the depths of humility and found that the only way up is to lay their weaknesses and hearts at the foot of the Cross. They have reached another milestone and now humbly return to their homes to turn their attention to others knowing it can be done. I am inspired and grateful.