Invocation – Waiting in the forest of the present
Come into the forest and sit a while
under the shade of these mighty oaks,
beneath this natural canopy
under which a century of Wellesley women
have passed, and been changed in the passing.
Come into the forest and find shelter
on this day of your departure.
Let loose for a time the journey that has been.
Allow for awhile that which awaits to remain expected.
Come into the forest
and just be here…
For it is here in nature’s cathedral
that a transformation is underway…
here that a metamorphosis is unfolding,
here, within our gaze,
student becomes graduate,
no cocoon able to contain her any longer.
She will soon be set free;
free from the shelter of this place,
free to roam,
and alight wherever she will,
for a time or a lifetime.
But now there she sits,
object of our pride and affection,
waiting here in the forest,
in the fullness of this moment,
in the fullness of her being,
it is time
to let you go.
Benediction – Broken Trees II
There is a tree in our backyard
whose limbs were felled by some mighty wind.
Once tall and proud,
it now stands tenuously,
essential parts rips from its body,
branches lying in a heap
having given in to the forces of nature
that pushed parts of its once beautiful form
down upon the earth.
I have wondered from time to time
why I have not gone out, saw in hand,
to clean up the mess the storm left behind,
to erase the sad image of this no longer powerful tree;
thereby restoring the beauty of the landscape within my view.
But just between you and me,
I have to admit
that there is something about this tree
in its brokenness
that captures me…
Something about the forest in its reality,
broken trees and all,
that resonates within me;
that is me,
not picture perfect
as I sometimes yearn to be,
scarred and wounded,
as forest, as person,
alive and broken at the same time.
You see the forest is me,
as we walk and wander this earth
in our incarnate form,
broken and yet alive,
imperfect and yet whole.
It is perfection that is the illusion;
and thereby perhaps not the best standard
upon which to judge oneself or another.
Whether in arbor or human form,
it is the scars that tell the story of our lives;
each wound its own tale of struggle and redemption
each blemish a testament to a life fully lived.
And so my sisters,
as you now scatter with the winds,
those gentle and warm
and those fierce and forbidding,
I wish you, on this day of your commencement
and in your life yet to be lived,
no, not perfection.
the beauty of your imperfection,
the truth of your humanity,
the reality of all the scrapes and scars and wounds
that have been and will be,
for you and yours.
And so as you go now
out into a deeper and wider part of the forest,
find the path that calls to you,
and pause from time to time when you come upon
that wounded or broken tree
and listen to her.
Listen to the reminder that she whispers
of the splendor and beauty
of the imperfection of creation and of your humanity,
and also of the resiliency of all living things.
The forest awaits.
And you are free.