In my last week as a Divinity student at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, the registrar approached me. She explained that the last thing that happens before walking into the graduation ceremony — after the rehearsal and the formal photos and getting into our caps and gowns and lining up in the order in which we’ll walk — the very last thing is a prayer, offered by one of the graduating Divinity students. She asked if I would pray for our graduates this year.
So on a sweltering Saturday in June, at the registrar’s cue I left my place in the ordered lines and stood before my peers. I knew that the other speakers that morning were all on the theme of pilgrimage. This is the prayer I offered.
* * * * *
At the end of the prayer, I’ll lead us in singing the doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” We’ll sing it two times through. There are a few pronouns in the doxology; feel free to use whichever pronoun you wish, or to simply say “God” instead of pronouns, and in the multiplicity of our choices we will more fully bear the image of God.
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us pray.
Divine One from whom we came, and to whom we go,
It has been such a long journey.
We have walked through valleys of readings.
We have hiked trails of paper-writing.
We have climbed through practicums
and scaled internships
and trekked through so much work to be here.
And now, today. Today we summit. Today we pause. Today we set down our packs,
we tend to our blisters,
we enjoy the view from up on this mountain,
and we rest.
May we enter this rest with freedom to celebrate and freedom to grieve.
May this rest bear witness to the complexities of our circumstances and to the ambivalences of our experiences.
May everything that comes to us during this time of rest this morning be for our healing and for your glory.
As you have always been with us, you are present now, and will always be. Help us to remain present with you and with one another this morning.
Send us now with hearts open to receive your blessings of grief
and your blessings of grace.
Send us now with eyes to see and ears to hear all your gifts as blessings of beauty.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise God/Him/Her all creatures here below,
Praise God/Him/Her above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father/Mother, Son/Child, and Holy Ghost.
* * * * *
When I started singing, I thought my voice would shake, but it was steadier and stronger than it should have been, given the tears that were forming. People joined quickly, a few scattered voices providing resonant harmony that helped every voice come more alive.The pronouned places were a beautiful jumble, not unlike humanity. At one point I stopped singing and let those I have held in prayer hold me in song, and I wept. As we all sang the amen, I quietly walked back to my place in the queue.
And we walked upstairs, me struggling through my tears to follow the black robe in front of me.