This was my Greenville News column last Monday.  I thought you might like it.

Have a great day!

Edwin

I attended a graduation recently.  It was unlike any graduation I had ever had the privilege of watching.  It was a combination commencement and party, rolled into one.  There was no crowded auditorium, no desperate need for more air conditioning, no endless speech and no exhausting roll of students waiting anxiously to be liberated from hot gowns and crowded seating.

There was one graduate.  Her name is Hannah.  Her school was her home, where for years her father and mother and supporting cast of family members had lovingly directed her education.  The meeting hall was the green front lawn of her home, where tents were pitched and tables arranged for family and friends.  The officials were her mother and father, who smiled and gave her the diploma she had so earned and praised her future plans and scholarships.  The prayer was not nervously given, in fear of some violation of the rules of the state.  And the music?  That was one of the best parts.  Good, old fashioned swing.

After Hannah smiled nervously and took her diploma, after we had all eaten in the tents cooled by a spring breeze, after the children in attendance had petted goats and horses, and dipped fruit and marshmallows in the chocolate fondue fountain, the sound system came alive.  And from all over the yard, young girls in summer skirts converged, barefoot, to dance with young men who were mostly nervous, but clearly intrigued.

There was an immense, deep beauty around all of it.  It illustrated a wonderful transition from high school to college, accompanied by the seamless connections of love and respect.  It was a celebration where friends delighted in one another.  It was a meeting where parents discussed past times, children who had not yet graduated, and dreams for their futures.

No one was intoxicated.  The graduate didn’t run out the door to finally escape her oppressive family.  No one fought.  No one was angry.  No one passed out from heat exhaustion.  No drama raised its head at all.

All of the young people were together as one.  Teens carried the babies of friends in their arms, and little girls danced with bigger boys, small boys with teenage girls.  It was sweet, gentle and harmless.  It was momentous and powerful.  It was, perhaps, what we all wish our graduations could have been like.

The world suffers from the inadequacy of intact, involved families and from the remarkable ‘under-education’ of untold numbers of students, who either drop out in fact, or drop out in essence.  The future hangs on a thin line, it seems, as the connections that held us for so long are dissolved in a post-modern nihilism, where the old ways seem laughable, faith seems ‘unscientific and oppressive,’ and education for too many seems simply too much work.

But at Hannah’s graduation, I saw that alternatives exist.  I saw that in many homes around the land, faith and family remain rock solid.  That there are students who wish to learn, and who will apply themselves as necessary.  I saw that young people are not the caricature that our culture and entertainment tell us.  (I knew it all along; but it was lovely to see and be reminded of the truth.)  And I realized, yet again, that the way I was educated, and my wife and friends were educated, is not the only way; nor even the best.

As a home-school parent, I was thrilled by the hopefulness, the love, the respect I saw.  As a writer, I was delighted by the visual poetry of dusk, music, and beautiful women and young girls laughing all around.  And as a father I was encouraged to see that the future for all of our children remains bright, if we simply believe. And if we invest as much of our time, devotion and effort into their lives as we possibly can.

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