Commencement time is here and once again the odd quirks of college life--the passionately held beliefs, the experimentation, the bad haircuts--evaporate. Colleges has long since transformed summer into additional instructional and operational sessions, but it's still worth remembering the cyclical celebration of passing time. John Cuddeback, in a larger post on Christian good-byes, adds this:
As a professor in a college community of several hundred people, I
have had ample opportunity for reflection upon saying goodbye. Every May
the students with whom I have shared a life for four years effectively
vanish into thin air. Sure some of them stay in touch, and come back and
visit. But fundamentally, that group of roughly ninety people, some of
whom I have really come to know and love—sharing trials, tears, and
triumphs—leaves never to return.
My eldest daughter has herself ‘gone off’ to college—that was rough,
and the rest will probably follow in succession. When I watch fathers
give away their daughters in marriage, I have to fight back my own
tears. I hope I won’t need to be resuscitated at my daughters’ weddings.
So I am learning to say goodbye. And it is a skill that I would do well to learn better.
Read the rest of it here.
The big good-bye, the one for all the money, is of course death. Cuddeback recognizes this and takes the opportunity to contribute an insightful disagreement with C. S. Lewis' adage that "Christians never say good-bye." In fact, Cuddeback suggests, Christians do say good-bye and the ways in which they do then assures that such partings are not, ultimately, final.
College graduations, much more mundane, are final. The students can't come back as they once were. The telos of college education--liberal, professional, or technical--will be discussed in future posts. For now, though, it seems appropriate to recognize that educators hope that their students, once they've encountered this 'minor' finality of graduation, carry something with them.