by Father Mark Goldasich
A couple of weeks ago after Mass, I pulled aside one of our high school students.
“Did you know you’ve been hacked?” I asked her.
“No,” she answered, as a look of concern spread across her face.
“Yes,” I said, “someone’s been sending out notices in your name, saying that you’re graduating in a few weeks! There’s no way that’s true, right? You only started high school a year ago!”
She burst out laughing and confirmed, much to my surprise, that she was indeed graduating . . . after four years. Honestly, it seemed like I had just baptized her yesterday. Heck, I myself was just where she is a mere (gulp) 48 years ago. What? Where did all those years go? (And even more incredible is watching “kids” from the parish graduating from college.)
With so many graduations happening at this time of year, I try to imagine what advice I’d offer to graduates. This year, it would be about coffee. Here’s the story:
A group of friends, all highly established in their careers, got together to visit an old university professor. Their conversations soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal; some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. He told the guests to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of problems and stress.
“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it is just more expensive and, in some cases, even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was the coffee, not the cup. But you consciously went for the best cups . . . and then began envying each other’s cups.”
“Now, consider this,” continued the professor, “life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of the life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.” (Story found in Meir Liraz’s “Top 100 Motivational Stories.”)
That is one wise professor. It’s said that the happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they simply make the best of everything.
One of the most important things we can do for those graduating is to bless and pray for them. It can be a crazy world out there, quite different from the one many of us graduated into. Only the good Lord can truly light their way. Perhaps you can use the following prayer (source unknown) for graduates in your family or simply for all students graduating this year:
“God of our beginnings, we thank you for the gifts of these graduates: their excitement, their awesome wonder and curiosity, their open speech and encouraging words. Their contributions have blessed and challenged us, and we have become a richer and more diverse community because of them.
“As they step forward into the world that awaits, comfort their fears with the full knowledge of your divine presence. Strengthen their resolve to walk in the footsteps of Jesus as modern-day disciples in a world that needs their spirit. Guide their feet as they move through life, protecting them from the pitfalls of darkness while they help to lead future generations into the warmth and promise of your light. Amen.”
And, graduates, one last thing: Don’t forget to enjoy the coffee!