To the graduating class
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
Commencements don't take place just at graduation ceremonies. They're about beginning, and opportunities to begin never end. One such beginning for me happened before I graduated, when I went to a talk sponsored by a student religious organization at my university. The speaker said something that made a big impression on me: "At the end of the day, ask yourself what you've accomplished. If you can't say you've helped or healed someone, you haven't accomplished anything."
That statement stopped me in my tracks. I was enjoying college. My studies had opened new worlds of thought. I remember thinking that I'd never be bored again because there was so much to learn and do. But a light went on for me when I heard that statement. I realized that the most satisfying times in my life had been when I was helping someone - when I had encouraged a friend who was scared or down. And especially when I'd shared something about God. At those times, the help rose to a level that felt closer to healing. That talk was a commencement speech for me. It made me see that helping and healing others was the main work I wanted to be doing right then.
Healing is essentially about love, and love is inseparable from God. Jesus described the love the world needs most this way: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love" (John 15:9). By the way he loved, Jesus showed us what the Father's love is like. God's love is pure and steadfast. It overpowers injustice and suffering. It lifts people to better lives, and it heals. This is the love in which we are to continue.
We don't need to wait until we're perfectly holy to begin loving like this. And we can start wherever we are. In fact, the more our goal is to express God's love, the more we'll be guided to situations where we can do that. That's what happened to Ward Quincey, who left a high-paying management position in the corporate world to teach at an inner-city high school in San Francisco. There were the obvious arguments against it - low pay, no prestige, the hassles and dangers of working at a tough school. But a voice inside him kept telling him it was a place he could make a difference.
"My basic job is to teach math and business," Ward told me. "But it's so much more than that. It's to bring out good things about the students, to figure out ways to let them shine. I want to bring out the 'A-student' in each of them." That goal seems remote some days. Then something like this comment on a student evaluation form encourages him: "Mr. Quincey use to sing [he makes up songs to help them remember math formulas], and really pound it in your head until you get it right, not giving up on us. Seems like he really wants us to learn.... To tell the truth I was happy when he yelled at us because he wanted us to learn and pull up are grades" (spelling unaltered).
Ward's department head summed it up when she told him, "You love them all, and that's why you're here."
The love that heals is a reflection of God's love for all creation. Love that sees each identity as it really is - a perfect manifestation of God. Love that never quits, because it knows that good is all that God creates, so only good can be true about anyone. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy devoted her life to continuing in the love that Jesus showed us. She wrote, "Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 454).
Graduates, Love will lead you to where you can best help and heal. You're here to see God's goodness in yourself and others, and to let it shine.
For ye shall go out with joy,
and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills
shall break forth before
you into singing,
and all the trees
of the field shall
clap their hands.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor