“A five-day trip to our grandson’s graduation was good for our car,” I told Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan. He could not figure out how a trip could be useful for our car. I explained the eight hours of driving one way at top interstate speed was what the car needed. Before the trip, the dash engine light had lit up. The dealership said that I needed to drive the vehicle at higher speed for a longer drive, instead of short trips at low speeds. After our trip to Portland, Oregon, eight hours there and eight hours back, our car’s engine light has stopped coming on.
Ed feels travelling eight hours for high school graduation is too much. He has his own ideas about how high school graduations should be conducted. If Ed ruled the school system, high school graduations would be for the school staff and the graduates only. It would be at the end of the last school day. On that day the graduates would get their diplomas with a handshake and, a solid direction to each one: “Now go to college or university or get a job, as you are all done here!”
Ed is full of ideas about how high school graduations should work. Graduating students would not get presents but give presents to their parents. There would not be grad parties, nor family celebrations over a family member’s graduation. It should be a time to present teachers with gifts to last them now and through their retirement. What woman teacher would not want a plastic rose with the student’s name and year stamped on it. Likewise, all male teachers would get a stamped Bic pen. Ed likes to quote his father’s words on his graduation: “So what if you’re graduating? That’s why you were in school, wasn’t it?”
Graduates will be congratulated, given presents, and their families will gather around them in joy and celebration. Parents find it a bittersweet time as many graduates will leave home, and the family cords that bind parents and their son or daughter will stretch and loosen. Sometimes they will seem to be so loose that they no longer count. Mostly the connections will be strong, as many parents and children will travel hours, or days to celebrate graduations, marriages and other special occasions. Family love may stretch, but it also binds many together.
We are born into a family or marry into one. Ruth in the Bible married into a family that came to her country of Moab from Bethlehem in Judah. A famine caused them to leave Bethlehem. Ruth married one of two sons in the family, but both the father, Ruth’s husband and other son died in Moab. Ruth was a young widow, also Orpah her sister-in-law, and the older Naomi, the mother of the family from Bethlehem. Naomi was ready to return to Bethlehem and instructed each daughter-in-law, to return to her family in Moab and remarry.
Ruth refused to let her mother-in-law return alone to Bethlehem. She vowed, “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” She traveled with Naomi and tied the cords of family love tightly.