Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 2010 Commencements

Well, it's that time of year again everywhere, including here in flood-recovering Nashville, when students who have completed their high school, undergraduate or graduate studies don the cap & gown and receive their diplomas.

You may not believe this, but yours truly actually LIKES going to graduation ceremonies, even ones I don't have to attend due to being student or teacher or having close relative graduating. Friday morning I went to Vanderbilt University to witness the graduation of my church's Associate Pastor, Michael Lehman, who received his MDiv from the university's Divinity School.

And I'm so glad I went!

It being warm and humid (and knowing that attendance would be high) I chose to not go to Alumni Lawn for the main Commencement start but rather enter the VU Library and bring up the on-line coverage of it. (That way I could also check out e-mail & do FB, switching back & forth between the windows on my screen.)

I was so surprised and delighted to see my old radio deejay buddy Keith Bilbrey's son Eric receive a Founders Award. (Surprised because I didn't even know Keith had a kid going to Vandy!) And then Chancellor Nick Zeppos gave a fine Commencement address. VU's fairly new chief kept it short & sweet! (It's long-standing tradition that Vanderbilt does not invite in a guest speaker but rather has the sitting Chancellor address the graduates.)

Then those receiving degrees from the graduate & professional schools left Alumni Lawn. And I left the library to enter nearby Benton Chapel, where Michael and the other divinity graduates would receive their diplomas. This part of the ceremony was much like a worship service, complete with hymn singing. To my surprise again, was Steve Gower was among the graduates! When he was intern at Eastwood Christian Church in 2008 I had assumed he was a first-year student. Steve received the Disciples of Christ denomination's own "Chalice Press Award".

Dean James Hudnut-Beumler, head of the D School, addressed the graduates in the presence of family and friends. He followed the Chancellor's lead, in keeping it short and sweet (the "KISS" Principle). Dean Hudnut began by alluding to the recent flood, and tying it in with the numerous images of water in Scripture. And he has a fine sense of humor!

I hope that sometime soon I can access on-line copies of both these KISS speeches, because both are worth remembering!

Afterward there was a reception, complete with rich and exotic finger foods -- kind of befitting a school nicknamed the "Harvard of the South"! And thank God, the forecast rain held off. When it did come later in the day, it was rather heavy, but not anything like 1 and 2 May.

Tomorrow, is Eastwood CC(DC)'s annual Graduation Sunday. We will be honoring especially our high school graduate, Katie Burton, who sings soprano in the choir. But we also have a couple of post-high school new alumni, including Michael. I'm really looking forward to the graduation celebration at Eastwood tomorrow!

All these Commencements are just what Nashville needs, to remind us that life goes on after the disaster of the flood! It's so appropriate for a city that long before it was called "Music City USA" was tagged as "The Athens of the South". Congratulations to all the graduates of 2010! Congratulations to Tennesseans for rebounding from the flood disaster! We are Nashville!

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