Almost every year since we became members of our local homeschool support group over a decade ago, my family has attended a high school graduation ceremony. It is always a blessing to watch parents—and sometimes entire families—ascend the stage, and to watch fathers and mothers greet their students in those final moments of homeschooling.
I have to say that in all my experiences in life, there is little which can compare to this. It is as filled with joy as the birth of a baby, as poignant with promise as a marriage, and as heavy with gravity as a tear-filled farewell.
It is a wonderful occasion, in which parents and children—and all those in the audience invited to share in the ceremony—feel the magnitude of the circumstances. It is a moment that bursts with cherishing, sweet triumph, and joyful sadness as a profound goal blossoms into bittersweet reality: the child who has been taught, nurtured, and fostered to this watershed point in life is now relinquished, led forward to the doorway that opens onto the vast, often unknown, vistas of life.
After so many years, I finally remember to make sure I take tissues. I know I will weep in the tenderness of each moment, as one family after another speaks words of love and praise, and places a diploma in the hands of the student in whom so much intentional, effectual love has been poured. In fact, I now take extra tissues, so that I can share with those around me. It is hard to find a dry eye. Even my husband, who is not one easily moved to tears, inevitably accepts a Kleenex from me as we are privileged to witness these stirring moments.
We have known some of the families of the graduates for many years. We have watched these children mature. We have memories of them as infants, toddlers, gangly elementary school students, blooming young adults. As we have been busy, immersed with the teaching and discipleship of our own children, we have also watched these children as they learned to read and write, mastered an instrument, gained in knowledge and skill, flexed their intellectual as well as physical muscles…and grew up. We have walked a little pace with them, too, now and then, as they have gradually grown into our peers in the community; we know that they will soon take the reins of leadership from us and grasp them in their own hands. It is true: these graduates are the fulfillment of the past, the flower of the present, the promise of the future.
As homeschool parents it is important to remember that while we have walked this path, we have truly invested in the past, the present, and the future, and all these are embodied in the children we now celebrate with as they receive their parents’ “well done.”
It is in these deeply eloquent moments—as these young adults walk upon the stage, their fathers and mothers hand them their diplomas, shake their hands…and then inevitably reach out to hold their children in a close embrace that is as much a culmination as it is a beginning—that eternity is captured; the reason why we mentor, disciple, teach, and homeschool our children is cast in an endless light: we are raising eternal souls for life in eternity, in fellowship with the Lord and with us. That moment unfolds so that all of time suddenly is captured within it: we see the baby, the child, the teenager, the adult, the future parent, the grandparent…and through it all we see him or her surrounded by love which cherishes so dearly that dreams do indeed become realities.
As each parent wraps his or her arms around that precious son or daughter, a blessing is felt by each of us. Some fathers place their hands upon their children’s heads and speak a blessing. But whether it is articulated verbally or not, every parent there recognizes that a palpable blessing is present: not in the handshake, not in the diploma, nor in the bouquet of flowers for the lovely daughter…but in that loving embrace which is both a goodbye and a greeting: a farewell to childhood and a welcome into eternity.