Every year at Commencement, the graduating class and faculty select three students—one from each degree program—to offer words of blessing and calling. Here, we’re sharing the full video and text of the speech by Cameron Carter, MA in Theology & Culture, about transitioning from the death of an ending into the resurrection of hope and desire. You can also view the speeches from Stephanie Johnson, (Master of Divinity), and Sarah Steinke (MA in Counseling Psychology).
Adventure is in my bones. Adventure drives me, calls me, pulls me, invites me. Adventure is that which climbs heights and yet descends into the abyss. Adventure is stepping into the wild unknown.
Adventure is what has brought me here.
Another word for this adventure, is hope. And just like adventure, hope is risk. Hope traverses the highest heights and the lowest lows. Hope takes courage. To quote Dan Allender, hope will kill you.
I didn’t intend to be a student at The Seattle School. It wasn’t the place or the reason I packed everything I owned into my sedan and trekked across the country. I had set my course elsewhere, on an adventure to find…well, I wasn’t quite sure yet. I was following a pull and seeking the articulation of my hope. That’s why it was an adventure. But then several years ago I walked into our red brick building, first as a staff member and eventually a student. I submitted my graduate school application with fear and uncertainty; it was the feeling of trading perhaps a clearer vocational path elsewhere for a world of open-ended questions that I was meant to ask and discover. Where is God in the midst of heartache, evil, and trauma? Who am I and how does my existence impact the world? Asking these questions began a terrifying adventure into hope and desire that I could not deny.
Hope is the promise of the goodness of God. Hope is the dream that spurs you on. Hope is elated and excited and on top of the world. And hope is persistence; it is trusting that in the depths of the darkness, the light can be found. Hope invites you into death and also promises resurrection.
This past year, my final year at The Seattle School, I had no further classes to complete but my focus was solely on the completion of my Integrative Project. This project which had been a part of me for years, growing and forming from within was ready to be birthed. And during this same year of birthing something new, I faced more personal deaths and endings than I could bear, including the sudden loss of my mother-in-law and the decision to end my time as a staff member. There were times where hope felt too distant to be real.
There is grief in the ending, any ending, but, in a very tangible and non-ethereal way, there is hope in what lies ahead. As we end our tenure at The Seattle School, I’m reminded that every ending is a taste of both the reality of death but also the hope of resurrection.
We have explored the heartaches and griefs and traumas that scarred us and we have followed the calling of hope for who we are now and who we are yet to become.
The challenge for us is to acknowledge the scars left by the ending, while still leaning into healing and the hope for resurrection. We leave this place and our red brick building standing in that tension between the two.
Emily Dickinson writes:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all
Hope, is your deep seated longing, an invitation to taste and see. It is the places that make your heart sing without ceasing. It is the dream within your soul that you are birthing to life, trusting in the promises of God to resurrect and renew. So for our hearts to begin to dream of redemption, to hope, opens our hearts to what is not and what will one day be. Today we stand in these caps and gowns, walk across this stage, and receive the degree that was born of this hope. We have each tasted hope, and know that the adventure stirring within us is now coming forth.
May it be so.