Various extracurricular groups in high schools, colleges, and universities typically have some sort of ceremony in which they honor their seniors. Whether it is the last performance, the last meet, or the last home game, there is a time when the seniors will be called one by one to be recognized. In my experience, there is always an announcer calling out not only the name, but also some details about the person’s accomplishments and future goals. In addition, you will generally hear, “Our next senior is John Smith. John is accompanied tonight by his parents, Bob and Susie Smith, and by his younger sister, Mary,” or some such. In this process, dads and moms beam with pride, and those being recognized receive accolades and awards, both verbal and material. My belief is that this is a good tradition.
Recently I was at a college basketball game where the home team was recognizing its seniors. In this group was one young man who was accompanied only by a teammate. No dad. No mom. No siblings or cousins or uncles. No mention at all of family. I am not privy to the whole story (though, admittedly, I do know that this young man comes from a very different upbringing—one much more difficult than most of us), but I will say this: I was moved. Really moved. The teammate who walked with him and stood with him and celebrated with him volunteered on his own to do this. He and this senior grew up in the same area, in very similar circumstances, so the teammate wanted to let his friend know that he was loved. He wanted him to know that there is always somebody to lean on. So it is that they walked out to the middle of the court, arms around one another’s shoulders like schoolboys, big smiles on their faces. It was a sight to behold.
We are called to love one another and to care for one another. This is demonstrated no better than when we help one another, when we are present for one another, when we celebrate with one another, and when we help one another carry burdens.