Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Between the Photo-Ops

Note: This is actually a speech that I wrote for Jarvie's Grad Nine Prom three years ago. The ten kids that I had the privilege of speaking to three years ago are graduating from high school today and I would like to share the same words with them and you today. Happy Graduation! I am so excited to do the Invocation at your ceremonies this afternoon too, what an honor!

Good evening students, teachers, parents, family, friends and honored Grade 9 graduates. I count it a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to you all this evening. I have titled my thoughts, in Between the Photo-ops. Before we get too far, I think I should give a brief definition of the word photo-op. A photo-op is a prime opportunity for pictures to be taken. Photo-ops often center around important events and each of our lives have many opportunities for these moments to take place.

The day that each of us were born was the very first photo-op. If you have a photo album of your life this is always the first picture that you will see. From that moment on, the album is full of other photo-op events such as your first steps, riding a bike for the first time, your first day of school...lunch bag in hand, your first school Christmas concert, piano recitals, hockey team pictures, your grade 9 prom, your first time behind the wheel, your wedding day, the births of your children, family vacations, special birthdays and anniversaries and eventually the retirement party.

If we were to look through the photo album of your life it would be filled with accomplishments and achievements of the things that you have been involved in or have had the chance to do. Theses events are important and worth taking a picture of but I would venture to say that 99% of our lives are lived in between the photo-ops. If this is true, what can we learn about life? If only 1% of our lives make up the special days that are definitely worth noting, the other 99% should be given specific energy and effort and even more notice by us. What I mean by this is that the kind of people that we are and that we practice being everyday may never end up in the photo album but this is a more accurate picture of who we really are. Every person has gifts and abilities that are unique to them. Every person's 99% will look different. We are faced with a choice, will we use our gifts and abilities to our own end or will we create a legacy that can truly change the world around us? At the end of your life will you be remembered for the fancy truck that you drove or that you were kind and lived generously? Will you be remembered for the doctorate degree that you earned or that you shared you life by serving others? Will you be remembered for the super model that you married or that you loved deeply and found joy in your family? The 99% in between the photo-ops is what you will be remembered for, even though there may not be a picture in the album to go with it.

I do not know what your specific future photo-ops will be, graduates, but I have caught glimpses, over the past three years, of the people that you will become if you are committed to continue learning and practicing the gifts and abilities that make you who you are.

Krissy...whenever I see you, the word that comes to my mind is confident. The way that you speak and act displays the fact that you know who you are and what you stand for, and you will not back down without a fight. Use your confidence in a way that will nurture it in others. This is a quality that seems to be lacking in the world we live in today. You can make a difference by modelling confidence to those around you.

Clayton...I have watched you mature and change over the past three years but one quality i see in you that has been a constant is your respect for others. i know that this is something that you have been taught from a young age, but you have turned knowledge into wisdom because you practice it in your life. Thank you for the chance to meet someone that is genuine in their respect for others. Continue sharing this quality with those around you, you can make a difference.

Keeley...I know that life has been full of ups and downs for you, but through everything you have continued to smile and see the world as a place that needs what you have to offer, which is kindness and compassion. Please continue to grow and develop these gifts, the world is full of needy people that are aching for the human touch. You have much to offer.

Damaris...your grace and inner peace have been an example to me that no matter a person's age, you can have an understanding of how things are really supposed to be. I picture you when you are old and grey and I am awed by the woman that you will become because you have figured out what many of us still do not understand. Do not be afraid or timid to share this with those around you. When you share what is in your heart, people will melt!

Shawn...I have never, in all my years working with young people, met someone who wants to be heard as much as you do. I remember Heroes class and the frantic waving that always seemed to come from your corner of the classroom. I consider this quality of great value. You will have a chance to be heard everyday by every person that you come in contact with. What you do with the words that you speak can truly change the course of people's lives. Words are powerful, learn to use them in a way that will encourage and offer life to those around you.

Becca...The official tally is in... no one gives as many quality hugs as you do. You win! You wear your heart on your sleeve and it is a kind that embraces others and makes them feel valued. in the society that we live in there is a grave shortage of people who are not afraid to be vulnerable and show true affection. Love truly can change others, I know that you will continue to shower others with what flows out of you naturally.

Lindsey...Your bubbly spirit and your willingness to try new things are an inspiration to many. You have a zest for life and rarely have I seen you sitting still. I see you as a people carpenter. The things that you have had the opportunity to learn are the tools that can build people up. Use your energy to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

Randy... I believe that you are just beginning to see your potential as a musician. I am married to a drummer. I know that one of Jeremy 's qualities is that he is steady, not only can he pound out a steady beat, but he is loyal and honest and isn't blown by every wind. I see these qualities in you as well. you are cut from a different cloth than most. Your gifts are easily shared through the avenue of music. Don't be afraid to add your heart as well. I look forward to seeing how you will find your way.

Caitlin...Sorrow has given you a maturity beyond your years. You have the gift of being able to read people and their intentions and motives. I have watched as compassion and an awareness of others has blossomed in you. Continue to share everything that you are and are becoming even at the risk of pain and loss. You are a gem that is being buffed and polished, I know that you will continue to shine. possess a quality that people all over the world need to embrace. You are one of the rare individuals that know how to be comfortable in their own skin. You are yourself in every situation. You never try to impress or show off. You do not look for praise or recognition, though you deserve it. I find that people that don't want to be noticed are often the people that I should notice. They quietly live their lives and are willing to help others without getting a medal. Continue to serve and give to others, and people's lives will be changed forever.

On this photo-op day of your graduation from grade 9 (and grade 12), I would like you to take a moment to think about how you will live your life tomorrow, and the days after that until your next photo-op day. Each one of us here this evening has much to offer the world around us through the use of our gifts and abilities. In a world of poverty, war, loss, suffering, greed, terrorism, racism, striving and injustice; we can be the change that we want to see by using our 99% to be generous, make peace, and show mercy. We can be givers of our time, energy and resources. We can stand for justice. We can hope and dream about how our lives can and will be significant in the lives of others. This is the kind of life worth living and that will be honored at the end of our days. I believe in you, graduates. i know that you can and will become world-changers. live your life in between the photo-ops to the fullest; invest it in the lives of others. Thank you.

Another note: This will be my last post for a couple of weeks...I am taking a road trip with the family to soggy Saskatchewan! Oh, happy summer!! Peace!

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