Our daughter, Keziah, graduated from High School this past June. Our family joined hundreds of others in a big arena to celebrate this bittersweet rite of passage. Photos of each Senior flashed by on the Jumbotron while we readied our cameras and tried not to cry. Friends and family members came laden with armloads of flowers and gift bags. A good time was had by all.
A woman sitting two rows in front of us, about ten seats to our left, seemed to be having an especially good time. About every 30 seconds throughout the whole ceremony, she shouted at the top of her lungs: DESTINY! You could set your watch by her regularity. No matter what was going on, who was speaking, which graduate was receiving their diploma, we heard the steady cry of DESTINY! This woman was Destiny’s biggest cheerleader. Destiny never once turned to look at her biggest fan. DESTINY!!! The wise family kept their air horn away from her.
For the most part, I tried to ignore the earsplitting shouts of this woman. Worn down by the interruptions, I started rolling my eyes and getting rather judgey about the human megaphone. Perhaps my irritation was a welcome diversion from feeling all sad and weepy about the upcoming changes the graduation ceremony heralded. I tried to breathe and let it go, but eye-rolling won out.
At the end of the ceremony, my sister went up to the woman and said: “You seem really excited. You must be really proud of Destiny.” The woman lit up with smiles. “Oh yes, she’s my niece. She’s amazing, and I’m so proud of her.”
My big sister, who is way more evolved than I, chose compassion over judgment. Kay has been formed by 35 years of the Spiritual Practice of being a High School art teacher. Working with teenagers and their stressed-out families in a crumbling education system for that long has taught her many things. Perhaps the most important ones being the value of letting go of the things you cannot change and choosing to discover the common humanity in everyone.
My sister’s approach to Destiny’s aunt invited me to see that woman in a different light. Shifting from judgment to compassionate appreciation helped me to see something I had not noticed before. Like those biblical characters who speak an outrageous truth from their positions on the edge of acceptable society, this unnamed woman was proclaiming something we all needed to hear. DESTINY was not just one graduate’s name, but also a reminder that each graduate was standing on their edge of their own destiny.
The future calls to these graduates to go forth and create their own destiny, to shape their futures by the choices they will make and the lives they will live. DESTINY is the clarion call to create a future world shaped by compassion above all else. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Imagine our destiny if everything we did was rooted first in compassion.