This is what you shall do:
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
give alms to everyone that asks,
devote your income and labor to others,
argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people,
and your very flesh shall be a great poem,
and have the richest fluency, not only in its words,
but in the silent lines of its lips and face,
and between the lashes of your eyes,
and in every motion and joint of your body.
~Walt Whitman from his preface to “Leaves of Grass”
Time lurches ahead in imprecisely measured chunks and today is the start of another summer season of relative rest, of another transition for several thousand college students moving on to another phase of life with advice of all sorts ringing in their ears.
Commencement is best suited to start in a season that itself is a poem. Summer simply stands on its own in all its extravagant abundance of light and warmth and growth and color stretching deep within the rising and setting horizons. Each long day can feel like it must last forever, never ending, yet, like the length of our fleshy days on earth, it eventually winds down, spins itself out, darkening gradually into shadow.
In a few short months we will let go with reluctance as if no summer like it could ever come again.
Yet another will, somehow, somewhere, someday. Our very flesh can depend on it.
Surely such a never-ending summer is what heaven itself will be.