What a week. This past week was one of those that held literally the highest highs and the lowest lows. It's got me thinking about beginnings and endings.
——— The high.
We had the incredible joy of watching our son graduate from college. With all pomp and circumstance that is due, we sat fully immersed in all the pageantry of the ceremony as our hearts nearly burst wide open with pride. We watched as the graduates marched down the center of the main street of the campus, being led by a white horse (no joke) and to the cheers of everyone supporting them. Even though it was threatening rain at the outside commencement, the weather could not dampen the electricity in the air of promise and excitement. The graduation ceremony opened with prayer the same way the freshman convocation had opened three years prior. Fitting. Each word felt deeply. Beginnings and Endings.
We listened to the keynote speaker charge them with making the most significant impact they could within their sphere of influence. When it was time to walk, the university president encouraged the families of each graduate to stand and honor their graduate when their names were called instead of cheering. It honored us, and it honored him. I loved it. It was a sign of us celebrating his accomplishment of finishing college with honors and a sign of us letting go of the hand we took in ours on the first day of kindergarten. Each season precious. Beginnings and Endings.
As my son's name was called, time seemed to stand still. I felt myself rise and stand on tip toes as I heard only the sound of the wind blowing from the pressing storm. I then heard them call the name I gave him. I saw his smile broaden as he heard it called. I clasped my hands together in front of my heart; for sure, it would leap through my skin. My son was graduating from college. How is that possible. Didn't I just teach him to read? Isn't there anything I can do to slow down time at this moment? Each moment captured. Beginnings and Endings.
I watched him begin to cross the platform. It took him 12 steps. How do I know? Because I counted them. Since the day he took his first steps, I've been counting them. Watching carefully where his feet would take him. I've seen the steps he took to get to college and the steps it took to finish early. I've anticipated those missed steps and celebrated the big ones. I've seen his steps in entrepreneurship and independence. And I'm now watching those steps lead farther and farther from home. Good and right steps, just one's I've been wishing I had not been counting on. Each step measured. Beginnings and Endings.
We had the incredible sadness of losing a friend we've known for the better part of 20 years. He fought a battle for his life for the last nine months. And though he fought hard, he landed in the arms of Jesus a few days ago while surrounded by people that loved him and celebrated him into heaven. He will be incredibly missed but as Charles Dickens says, "The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again." I believe that to be true. We will see him again soon. Each memory treasured. Beginnings and Endings.
Life is full of beginnings and endings, and while typically the end of things is celebrated, in this case, my friend's endings and beginnings are both worth celebrating. The ending of his pain. The ending of a long battle. The ending of suffering. The beginning of his life in heaven. The beginning of his complete healing. The beginning of eternity. Each a celebration. Beginnings and Endings.
Every beginning is the start of something. Every ending is the start of something. Both are worth celebrating.
While my son was celebrating the ending of college, he was also celebrating the beginning of the rest of his life. While my friend's life on earth was drawing to a close, his life in eternity was just beginning. The happy and the hard. The great and the grief. Each one worth recognizing, and each one worth a pause, and each one carrying the beautiful fingerprints of Jesus. Beginnings and Endings.
At the beginning of the week, I was on my feet for my son. At the end of the week, all of heaven was on its feet for my friend. Each one a gift. Beginnings and Endings.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11