I celebrated four promotions today—from comic to cosmic. Three in schoolyards and one in a graveyard.
Fifteen four- and five-year-olds were comically adorable in their Holy Cross Preschool promotion this morning. They are on their way to the grand adventure of Kindergarten. When the Preschool director interviewed them, they told us what they want to be when they grow up: Three girls aspire to become cheerleaders, and another one wants to be a princess. Three of the boys want to grow up to be dirt bike riders, and another wants to be a quad rider. After all the cheerleaders and the princess, one girl declared that she will be a scientist! I think I’ll keep my eye on her.
At Topa Topa Elementary, several dozen sixth-graders were equally excited at the prospect of stepping to the next level. The seventeen-member band began with the “Mickey Mouse March,” then shifted to traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.” The students’ speeches were easy to listen to because they were good…and they lasted only a minute apiece. One girl had the backbone to sing a song that she had written. Listening to students’ names tells you whether or not you are part of their generation. My school classes were full of David’s, Steve’s, and Craig’s. Today I watched Denver and Lennon accept their certificates.
I walked into Matilija Junior High’s eighth-grade promotion a few minutes after the ceremony was over. A small herd of boys rumbled past me, laughing and sounding off with their air horns. That must have been one loud ceremony. Although I missed the passing out of 100-plus certificates, I was invited to a private reception afterward. I laughed with, congratulated and hugged a fantastic eighth-grader.
Lives of service and success often look back at encouragement and affirmation as critical ingredients. In each of these promotion ceremonies we hope that the students will glimpse of their potential. We hope that a bright gleam of their possible futures will unveil in their minds. Somewhere in the music, the speeches, the hugs, the punch, and the cake, we yearn for aspiration to ignite.
In the middle of the three school promotions, I participated in one even grander promotion ceremony. It was permanent, even cosmic—“immeasurably extended in time and space.” I prayed with the family and friends of Charles Gustafson at a cemetery. We interred his remains next to his wife of 62 years. We gathered to honor a man who had shaped our lives and to mark his promotion from time to eternity.
Each of the other promotions today was a step to prepare for another step. Those promotions will be followed by yet further promotions. Not so for Charles; his race is run. Each of us is headed to a final promotion. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13).