Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/a-word-to-graduates-be-available/
Do you remember the words of advice that you were given as you graduated from High School or College? What word of advice would you give a graduate today?
I don’t remember much about my graduation other than I was glad to be graduating. The irony of commencement speeches is how individuals motivate graduating seniors to reach for the stars, keep on keeping on, and never give up when in reality they don’t have a clue. For twelve years the students have been living one day from the next and now all of a sudden they must start thinking about 401k’s and 529 college savings plan for their own children. Now their minds must shift from day-to-day thinking to long-term career focus. I remember coming back from my graduation trip sitting in my friend’s truck gazing out the window thinking “now what.”
If I was going to share a piece of advice to graduating seniors, high school or college, it would be to stay open. I would tell students to be open to the move of God’s Spirit. Not power, not prestige, not knowledge, not money but availability is what God is looking for. God is looking for people to put their heart on the table so he can put it on the map. God is longing to make a difference in the world one life at a time and his plan is to use us.
An inspiring story made the rounds of all the major news outlets in the wake of September 11th. It had to do with a young man from Indiana. William Harvey, a violin and composition major at New York’s renowned Julliard School. He wrote, “Sunday, September 16th was the most incredible and moving experience of my life,” and went on to say that the Julliard School organized a quartet to play at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan; the place where families of those missing from the World Trade Center were sent to wait for the news of their loved ones.
Harvey arrived a little later than the other members of the quartet, and they played for six hours, nonstop. When the rest of the group simply could play no more, he volunteered to stay and play a while longer. A Sergeant Major asked him if he would be willing to play for the soldiers who were coming back from digging through the rubble at Ground Zero. He said that there were volunteers upstairs who were going to give them massages, and he could think of nothing more soothing than getting a massage and listening to violin music at the same time.
William Harvey played for several more hours, everything from classical music, patriotic songs to Amazing Grace. By the end of the night, he said that his strings were shot and he had no bow control. He forgot segments of some of the music and had to improvise, but the soldiers didn’t seem to care. When he knew he could play no longer, he asked the Sergeant Major if it would be appropriate to play the national anthem as his last number. The sergeant called the soldiers in the room to attention and as William Harvey played the anthem, 300 soldiers from the 69th Regiment saluted an invisible flag. The 69th Regiment is the most decorated in the United States Army.
As he went back to Julliard by taxi, he realized that this was the most meaningful experience he had ever had as a musician and as a person. He said that, at Julliard, teachers and students expect technical perfection, but that night Harvey played for the most appreciative audience of his life. William Harvey used his God-given gift, however imperfect it was at the time, to offer a helping hand and bring comfort to others. He made himself available.
Harvey describes the experience, “And how did it change me as a person? Let’s just say that, next time I want to get into a petty argument about whether Richter or Horowitz was better, I’ll remember that when I asked the Colonel to describe the pit formed by the tumbling of the Towers, he couldn’t. Words only go so far, and even music can only go a little further from there.
Only those who keep themselves open can bring music to a world crying out in pain. Living in availability is freedom. By making myself available, I am not going to be weighed down by trivial matters. I am not going to be controlled by things or other people. I am free to be the person who God has called me to be. The world is changed by those who are available to respond when the world cries and God calls.
What word of advice would you give to 2013 graduates?