The Words of the Kaufmann Family
Respected family of the Bridgeport International Academy, Dr. Hugh and Nora Spurgeon and Academy administration, faculty, families, students, and friends.
Today is a blessed day. Family, faculty, and countless others have invested all your heart, and dreams in these exceptional young people, and likewise the graduates yourselves responded many beyond our greatest imagination.
Graduates and the Academy family dreamt together for this day, sometimes in dark and difficult hours, and others in the precious moments of discovery, awakening, learning and growing.
Family members prayed and cheered you on, as Academy leaders and teachers sought to extend that love, sometimes harsh, sometimes demanding, but always in the hope that each of you would reach the apex of your potential.
In turn you met these expectations bringing to them dreams and demands of your own. From the passions of your heart and your spiritual roots you naturally seek your deep aspirations and broad horizons. From the thirst and curiosity of mind you navigate your studies. In playfulness, competitiveness, energy, and wonder you soared through the thrill of sports, and danced through the arts and culture. With the help of God, you sought to do good and be good, to keep your relationships in order and to leave your mark so that you will be remembered fondly. You will be missed by your teachers, and your friends.
Graduates, you have created this day through light and dark, through excitement and even through despair, and by coming to this special and well deserved moment of recognition and honor, you made, not just your dreams come true, but the dreams of so many others. Your graduation is a gift. A gift to you. Your gift to us.
Now many will continue your studies in various universities around the region and around the country. Once again you will go from king of the hill to the bottom of the totem pole. There'll be a new gang of seniors with their calm command from years in one place, and you will have to find your way. There will be a new community of teachers, administrators, coaches, and directors, once again all looking to you. Wanting to give, wanting to dream, and carrying us forward.
Sometimes the path seems oppressive. No sooner have we gone through the excruciating process of college applications, decisions, nervous waiting, and even the burden of decisions after acceptances, than almost immediately you will hear the cacophony of voices both within and without. What do you want to be, what do you want to do, what will you declare, what should be your major.
Is this pleasant?
You will pass through university, gaining your skills, knowledge, command, and that too will be met with graduation moments and new transitions.
It is to this roller coaster of life, this tyranny of expectation, this eternal senior one day, and freshman the next, that I would like to speak, just for a moment this evening. And perhaps not only to you graduates, but to everyone in the room. Why to everyone in the room?
Because life has the ability to make every one of us a freshman in the blink of an eye. From rich to poor, in the blink of an eye. From here to there in the blink of an eye. From knowing to bewildered in the blink of an eye.
The secret, to enjoying a still blessedness, to having a Jesus like ability to stretch one's hand over a turbulent sea and declare a placid calm, does not come from knowing what you want to do. It does not come from knowing what you want to be. The stop the faithlessness shouting fearfully in my own head, or the nervous chatter of the expectations all around us, does not come from being 8 years old and deciding you want to be a surgeon.
The still, the peace, the joy, the ability to pass through the ever new world of new decisions, new demands, new needs to learn, to adjust, to grow, and to command, comes from knowing who you are.
You are how you give. You are how you love. You are how you wonder. You are in your gratitude. When you give, when you love, when you wonder, when you thank God, the universe, and all around you, the rest comes easy. Everything you need to know will always be revealed to you, when you give, when you love, when you wonder, and when you are grateful. These are uniquely you.
As you train yourselves in all the many paths each of you will tread. Some maybe doctors, some spiritual leaders, some actors, some mechanics. The world needs and loves these all. But please remember that the most important training of all is in constantly elevating your love, your goodness, your humility, and your gratitude. These will give you peace, and will allow your maximum greatness to be realized.
You have made yourselves great in this moment of your beautiful graduation. All of life awaits you. It awaits who you are, not what you are going to be.