Another milestone, not to be dodged. My godson's graduation announcement arrived yesterday. I wrote him last year, when he was making an important retreat at Christmas time. I reprint the letter now, as I collect my thoughts and feelings to wish him farewell at graduation.
December 10. 2004
New York City, New York
I was in St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday and have been thinking about you off and on ever since. What an honor it has been for me to watch you grow up. It was such a source of pride to see you graduate from nine years of Catholic grade school with top honors and land at Gonzaga Prep as one of the top freshmen.
You have chosen to distinguish yourself at Prep with mighty pursuits, noble ambitions, and values that will always ring true. You are such a delight.
We love how you treat your sisters and your grandparents. We love to hear your mother’s voice when she talks about a conversation she had with you pertaining to this or that. And we absolutely loved looking across court all those years and seeing you right by your father’s side, studiously observing the Zags and honoring the your family's tradition as a quiet, but fierce fan. You have been and are such a calm and peaceful influence on all you meet. Another thing that I love about you is your sense of humor. Honestly? I just didn’t expect it to be that finely honed nor sophisticated at age 16. You just crack me up sometimes!
You are a gift to us all in so many ways. And we have been so lucky and blessed to be in your life….John, I wish I could give you some great advice on how to lead a blessed, grace-filled life. Unfortunately, your godmother is a Presbyterian who the Catholics took pity on and took in, much to her betterment. She means well but has a pretty shaky foundation on most things, including life!
But I can tell you that I love this time of year; the season of light and hope has always meant much to me and now that I am a member of The Real faith community, I know why. I was looking at the crèches in the cathedral gift shop and somehow I was thinking of you again. I wondered if we had ever discussed crèches and how smitten I am with them. Did you know I have a hundred or so of them from all over the world? I love them because they are expressions of pure adoration. They never fail to touch me deeply and often bring me to tears as I think about that story that is the bedrock of our beliefs. In the darkest, gloomiest time of the year, there will always be hope and light in our Lord. No matter what, our Lord will shine his light upon the rockiest and rut-filled path. No matter what.
As men and women for others, you need to know it will not always be easy and not always be a pain-free life. But we will never be alone. Our Father has promised us he will always be with us and we know that having each other in Him can make a really big difference, too. I will always count you as one of the true, biggest blessings of my life. Just know that my path is certainly much brighter because of your light and I look forward to what is to come with great hope because I know, I know, that the best is yet to come.
I will see Jon tomorrow and together we will go back to the Cathedral and light a candle and say a prayer for you, with a special petition to St. Michael, to help you with the battle against the dark. Be well and my special wish for you is that you will always be consoled by hope and light and that adoration will continue to be your watchword.