21 Days ago I attended my son’s graduation. What a happy occasion! (Which I’ll write about soon!) So many graduations happening all around me! From my preschoolers tomorrow to high school and college and a good friend who just got her degree to be a pastor at 50 years old!
All these graduations make me think of a post from last year when I went to a Bar Mitzvah for a family friend. I’d never been to a Bar Mitzvah. Wow! What a wonderful ceremony for a young man to get his start in the community. His mother gave a beautiful speech that had us all in tears. It reaches beyond religion and speaks to us all as mothers. I think it’s perfect for this time of year. I asked the author of the these reflections, my good friend, Susie Schreiber, if I could reprint it for you to read. I think you’ll enjoy it!!
A few months ago, right before Passover, Rabbi Mo asked all of us at religious school, to share what we would put in our backpack if we were slaves in Egypt getting ready for our Exodus. And it got me thinking,…here you are today, standing before all of us, ready to take your first steps on your journey into adulthood. And before you take off – as your mom – I’m going to slip a few things into your backpack to help make your journey as rich and as beautiful as possible.
First – I’m putting in a sense of adventure. We live in a big world. May you always make the time to explore it, enjoy its beauty and learn all about the many different cultures and people who live in it. With that sense of adventure, I’m slipping in your B’tzelem Elohim sun glasses that Rabbi Mo gave us that allow you to see the image of God that lies within each of us. Look for the beauty in everything because it’s only when you look into the hearts of others and embrace what makes each person special and unique that you’ll find true connections and friendships in life.
And of course, no mom would be doing her job if she didn’t throw in some sunscreen and a water bottle. Sunscreen to protect you and the water bottle to not only keep you well hydrated, but to remind you to always have a thirst for knowledge and learning. One of my favorite excerpts about learning is from T.H. White’s, The Once and Future King. Merlin, the wizard says, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails.… Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”
And while I’m on the topic of books, I’m throwing in our favorite book, Old Turtle, to remind you that God is always near you and his strength and guidance are too. God is that quiet tick in your heart that’s telling you to trust what you know and to be who you are. Don’t allow the noise that our culture puts out confuse you. Make choices in your life that honor that quiet voice in your heart by following your truth, your dreams and your passions in life and more importantly listen to that voice that’s telling you to treat all people well, with kindness, understanding and love.
And not only is life noisy – but it’s messy too. Remember, you’re only living life to its fullest and playing hard if you take plenty of falls and skin your knees. Life’s not a dress rehearsal so you need to learn how to find the blessings and lessons in all of your mistakes so that when you do fall down, you can pick yourself up and keep moving on. So – I guess – what I’m saying is – I’m throwing in some Purell and a bar a soap – so you can clean yourself up and get a fresh start when things get tough.
This next gift seems pretty small, but I guarantee that the world will forever appreciate it. I’m giving you a pack of wildflower seeds to help keep our Mother Earth beautiful. No matter where you go in life – besides just leaving your footprints – make a difference. Make the world a better place because you are here. Plant some seeds along the way so that you will always leave a trace of beauty in your path.
The funny thing is – you already know and embrace everything that I’ve shared with you today. You get it – you always have. You’re a thoughtful, perceptive and compassionate young man. That said – as strong as you are in your convictions to do the right thing and be who you are – as you enter into your teen years – there will be times when others will challenge and question those ideals and cause you to doubt what you know. So – I’m giving you a flashlight to remind you that no matter what others think or say about you… shine on.
I know that the experts always say to pack light – and I don’t really want to weigh you down too much, so I’m only going to put one more thing in your pack. And this one -selfishly is for me. But as your mom – I reserve that right. I’m giving you a compass – so that no matter where your journey takes you – you will always be able to find your way home and then remind me “to relax Mom and take a deep breath!” I love you so much and am forever proud of who you are.
Isn’t this wonderful? Hope you’ll enjoy as you attend the graduations and parties of the people you love in your life!
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