This is Graduation Weekend at Seattle Pacific University. Events kicked off today with the 86th annual Ivy Cutting Ceremony. Usually held outside under the towering elms surrounding Tiffany Loop, today's chilling drizzle moved the event inside the Royal Brougham gymnasium on campus. Although we would have preferred to experience this rite of passage in sunshine, the symbolism, the joy and bittersweet of "moving on" for all these young graduates was heartfelt.
The tradition places all the graduates in their caps and gowns surrounding a long length of ivy in the shape of a large oval. At the end of the ceremony, the graduates lift up the length of ivy and specially selected faculty members cut the single woven strand into smaller pieces. Each graduate carries a small bit of ivy cut from the one strand to symbolize that their work as students of SPU is complete and they enter the world with ambition, dreams, and skills for the journey ahead. The ties between "child and parent" are cut. The photo above shows Chris with his mentor, Dr. Ed Smith.
I remember four years ago as Chris matriculated at SPU, a ceremony of welcome in the same Royal Brougham gymnasium placed the young faces of the nascent class of 2008 in the center of the gym floor, this time surround by the SPU faculty in caps and gowns. This marked the start of their journey together, the launch of the four years that would change them all. I thought at the time this was a powerful visual; likewise with today's event.
Graduation is a big deal. It marks an end and a new beginning. This is a time to celebrate and a time to reflect back on how it was for all of us on our big day and what it will be like for those in our family who look ahead to their time to be honored for academic achievements. "Worthy and well qualified", as Dean V. Thompson would say.
Congratulations Chris! Dad, Laura and I will be there to cheer when you cross the stage tomorrow.