Letter to the editor: Embrace wonder of youth, but let go of the past
Updated: July 6, 2012 12:44PM
Another season of college graduations — of diplomas, which proudly display all the years and lessons needed to reach this day. And yet, one wonders how many of us watching the ceremony can admit we lost almost as much as we gained from those four years?
With each new book read and course passed, we gathered up what our professors and our culture define as knowledge and truth. Surely we believe “the truth shall make us free.” But here’s the funny thing: There was a trade-off taking place. The more knowledge and truth that filled our life, the less room there may be for what had filled it before.
In the case of our youthful ignorance, the trade-off was a good one. However, there was another trade-off happening. The more knowledge and truth taking root, the less room was left for those young virtues of awe and wonder, mystery and belief, angels and leprechauns.
Lets be clear: This is not a plea for eternal childhood. St. Paul said it well: “Now that I am a man, I have put away the things of a child.” Victor Herbert sang it well: “Childhood — once you cross its borders, you can ne’er go back again.”
And yet, isn’t here’s some genetic tug to us as we yearn for what we’ve lost? Isn’t it the daunting dawning at the sunset of our life that what was once ours at its sunrise may have been our richest treasure of them all?
Citizen Kane whispered for his childhood: “Rosebud.” Jesus himself said: “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as them that the kingdom of God belongs.”
Those of us attending the recent graduation ceremonies have by now learned how life only starts to make sense looking backward, and yet has to be lived going forward. Which is perhaps why we hug our graduate so tightly.
In that embrace, we may be trying to pass the experience of our age on to the eagerness of their youth — just possibly the very best gift we have to offer them.