This was a different kind of plane ride for me. Usually, I’m winging my way to some distant city to speak or teach or serve as counsel. Those “ministry” trips are focused and filled with a large measure of responsiblity.
Our plane was zipping through the skies at 500 mph heading for a destination 4 hours away. But, I was relaxed, in fact, I was excited. This was not a trip where I was the focus.
The youngest in our family was finishing up his academic rigors as a Physician Assistant (PA) and getting ready for his rotations. He and his graduating classmates were getting ready to put into practice on real people with real health issues all that they had learned in books, lectures and discussions. As a rite of passage, each graduate was presented a white coat with their name embroidered on the front.
Our family and friends came from Portland, Burbank, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fremont, Brisbane, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Hayward, Detroit and Houston. Smiles were displaying deep family pride and personal joy. We were ready for a party!
On the night of the ceremony our collection of eleven filled up a row in the auditorium. Others were gathering to cheer on one special life as we were, just a different life. What we experienced and witnessed together was astounding.
This was not the typical pomp and circumstance of a boring, dull and dragged out academic ceremony. Instead, there was a camaraderie and collegiality that these 64 graduates genuinely shared with each other and with their faculty. It was electrifying.
They knew each other and celebrated with each other. Fist bumps, hugs, high fives and verbal commendations were collectively poured out, returned and shared. There was a community that was electric in the graduates.
The director of the school began with his remarks that were meaningful and reminiscent of fond times together. Spontaneous laughter and raucous teasing did not dominate or distract but added to the celebration mode. When the official speaker climbed the stage, students knew her, cheered her on and you could see these students absorbing her challenge.
A second award was presented. It was the Outstanding Service award. They gave it to my son, Jeremy, the president of the class. Again, the students gave their collective approval with enthusiastic sound. It made us proud.