In my extended family we celebrated two college commencements yesterday - two young women earning their bachelor's degrees, ready to take on the world. One of them is the first in her clan to complete a college degree, and we hosted a gathering of family and friends to celebrate. The other joins the ranks of many in her family who pursued higher education, including earning doctorates.
Both young women chose degrees leading to careers in helping others in their communities.
Both expressed profound joy and relief at the notion of never having to take another final exam (although I suspect both will find their way to graduate school soon).
And both are with significant others who are also finishing school, looking forward to the next phase of life, possibly together, possibly starting new families.
That's why we call it commencement (and I'm probably the only person I know who loves sitting through the ceremonies, loves to hear "Pomp and Circumstance" play, loves to listen to each name being called, loves the long dry speeches and the short funny ones, and loves to imagine where each newly-minted graduate has been, and what they will become).
It's all about beginnings. We celebrate accomplishments, and in so doing, we prepare ourselves for a new start.
What comes next? Moving, job searches, weddings, births? Who knows.
We only know that at the moment of celebration, the future is all possibilities.
I suspect that's the reason the dad of one of the graduates could not sleep the night before. He tuned in to the vastness of the possibilities in front of his daughter, once a tiny infant in his arms, now a thriving young woman.
I love writing stories with guardian angels who appear, often in the form of dogs or cats, to accompany their human charges through their journeys - sometimes challenging them, sometimes tricking them, but always making them laugh. I hope these two graduates (and all who are commencing new journeys this spring) will find guardian angels following them wherever they go next.
Elizabeth Fountain writes science fiction and fantasy with soul and humor, angels and aliens, and dogs who save the world. You can find more of her work at her web site and blog, Point No Point.