Sunday, May 19, 2002
Graduation Day at the University of Notre Dame
if today is like most commencement services (of course it’s not, since ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET IS GRADUATING SUMMA CUM LAUDE FROM THE HONORS PROGRAM AT ONE OF THE FINEST UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD!!!), you are likely to hear “pearls of wisdom” from a number of community and student leaders, all of whom are certain to conclude their remarks by issuing well-intended “pleas” for you and your classmates to use your tremendous interpersonal and intellectual gifts “to change the world.” i know, because not so long ago (okay, maybe it’s a little longer than i care to admit?!?), i sat where you’re sitting, albeit with only a fraction of the gifts, and somewhat naively assumed the mantle of “world changer.” thus, the purpose of this note . . .
you see, my forty three (43) years as a “world changer,” husband, dad, little league coach, lawyer, author, absentee uncle, poet, friend, teacher, social critic, etc., have given me a slightly different perspective on things, one that i hope you will reflect on as you begin charting a course for the rest of your life . . . aside from an abiding faith in God, which in your case is “a given” and, rightfully, should be paramount to all other goals and desires in your life, i believe that the surest way to “true” happiness is to find SOMEONE and SOMETHING you are PASSIONATE about and then spend the rest of your life pursuing them – PASSIONATELY and SELFLESSLY! i challenge you to begin that search today (if you haven’t already). i can assure you the rest will take care of itself!
CONGRATULATIONS!!! on your EXCEPTIONAL accomplishments and best of luck in your quest.
All my love,
p.s. thought you might benefit from having Og (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Og_Mandino) along on the journey. i think he was “plugged in!”
I, too, had hoped (and now kneel) to see you again –
robed in the splendor of late winter’s downy flake,
revered by the frost-bitten petals asleep at your feet,
shielded from the wind’s whispered fury by the gray grotto stone.
Oh, how the choirs of candles below sing your glory,
piercing the darkness that steals past the guard at your gate
(golden words faded and woven in smooth silver parchment,
a dying man’s wishes frozen and sealed under glass).
Over my shoulder, I see what the letter describes –
the snowflakes disguising the lake that will blossom in Spring,
the well-beaten pathway that students traverse year around,
and off in the distance a park bench in view of the Dome.
What has it done to my life to see it all again –
Our Lady’s statue, the lake and Tom Dooley’s words,
a path too familiar, too long to walk without you
on a winter’s night bathed in memories and dried by the wind.
May 21, 2002
Just a short note to let you know that I returned to South Bend this past weekend for the first time in nearly 23 years – to see my niece, Kim, graduate. For me, it was a very nostalgic trip. I wanted it to be 1978 again. I wanted to stop by your dorm (which I did), see you coming down the steps (which I didn’t) and head out past the Grotto to the lake for an afternoon walk. I wanted to bring with me an understanding of things that I wish I’d had back then. I wanted to give Notre Dame more of a chance to take up residence in my soul, the way it has for so many others, the way it did this weekend. I wondered where those 23 years went. Anyway, I promised I would keep it short. Lots more thoughts to share, but I’m having trouble seeing through the tears right now. Maybe some other time. I hope you’re well. Warmest, Don
P.S. By the way, when is that baby of yours due to arrive?!?