Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dear Karissa - Happy Graduation

Dear Karissa:

Congratulations on your graduation from Murray State. I’m sorry we were not able to be with you on your big day. Tomorrow happens to be Confirmation Day for my sister’s son and daughter; and Mark and I, as their godparents, are to be part of their celebration day. However, please know that we are holding you in our thoughts and asking God to guide your future. On to a master’s program—and/or who knows what else, yes? Very exciting.

I had hoped to send this gift in time for you to receive it on your Graduation Day. Instead, I’m typing a note to you while sitting in the purple chair by our fireplace (which happens to be turned on as a way to warm our family on this cold and rainy Iowa day in May). The motivation for writing is a desire to connect more intentionally to the moment. After all, as recently as this morning, you became a college graduate. That’s pretty big stuff. And even though Mark and I witness the phenomenon of college graduation at least once a year, it seems nearly unbelievable that you—a young woman we first met as an infant being held in her mother’s arms—is old enough to be graduating from college. What’s even more fascinating to consider is that one day you, too, will be attending (or unfortunately missing) a niece’s or nephew’s college graduation while thinking: Where has the time gone?

I regret that we’ve not been able to witness your maturing more closely as you’ve moved through childhood and adolescence into young adulthood. Please know that we inquire about each of you Ramey children whenever your Grandma and Grandpa Newcom checks in on us. We’ve enjoyed hearing about your travels out of the U.S., your desire to pursue post-graduate studies and your growing independence and sense of self. Only a woman with moxie chooses to travel alone, and most likely, she’s motivated by passion for the reason she’s traveling in the first place. Those qualities will serve you well no matter where life takes you.

Each year as graduation nears, Mark and I witness students with varying degrees of apprehension for what may come next. It seems the most debilitated are those who believe that if they don’t correctly discern God’s will for their lives, they will be a disappointment—destined to live a life outside of God’s providence. We’ve come to realize this: Nothing can take you outside the bounds of God’s providence. Indeed, “…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

So our desire for you, Karissa, is this: Don’t be afraid to follow where your heart leads. Don’t be afraid to encounter life in all its fullness—to befriend people some may find objectionable, to travel to places some might find undesirable, to ask questions some might find unnecessary. Because, our dear Karissa, God will always be with you, inviting you to discover all the people, places and puzzlements that make this such a wonderful manifestation of God’s divinity.

May this gift remind you of the unique role you hold among all those who comprise God’s humanity; and as you venture into the next phase of your life’s journey, may you be a shining example of the qualities that are yours as God’s child.

Our love to you,

Aunt Joy and Uncle Mark

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