Circles, bowls, and an empty podium were the key images for the McPherson College Class of 2016 to take with them from Commencement.
On May 15, MC recognized the accomplishment of the 153 graduating master’s and bachelor’s students – a class 20 percent larger than in 2015.
Dr. Becki Bowman, associate professor of communication, was the first to address the graduates with the ceremony’s homily. Holding up a ceramic bowl, she shared two images from “Everyday Sacred” by Sue Bender – circles and bowls.
Circles represent how life is not linear so much as a series of circles, with each ending connecting to a beginning. She encouraged the graduates to allow themselves to get a little lost in their journey of discovery.
The symbol of bowls comes from Buddhist monks, who would rely on others to fill their bowls each day to meet their needs. Like the monks, she encouraged MC graduates to leave space in their lives for others to provide them with what they actually need and not just what they think they need. A master plan is great, she said, but a little uncertainty could be great, too.
“If you’re a little bit lost, or if you’re brave enough to walk out of here today with your begging bowl stretched out in front of you,” she said. “You may find there are things much greater out there in the world waiting for you than you can ever imagine for yourself.”
Next to give the graduates advice was Carol Leland, a 1974 MC alumna and a current member of the MC Board of Trustees. Leland has a decades-long career as a mental health counselor and clinical therapist.
She began her commencement address with – literally – an unconventional move, as she walked from the podium into the auditorium to address the graduates more directly. She started by saying she didn’t particularly care about the degree the students were receiving – though she didn’t mean to diminish the education they had received, the relationships they had forged, or the opportunities MC has created.
“But today is about something you’ve accomplished,” she said. “It’s not about who you are, and I care about who you are. I care about who you are going to continue to evolve to be, and I care about you being able to hear yourself think.”
She encouraged everyone to take a moment to pause in the everyday life and to reflect on important moments – today of all days. She also called on the graduates to work on their “self-talk” and always affirm the value and worth of themselves and others.
That’s the reason why she doesn’t particularly care about their new degree, she said, but what the degree represents in who they have become as a result of their college years at MC.
“Right now – before you ever walk on that stage,” she said. “You are enough.”
Ceremony information is available at www.mcpherson.edu/graduation, including a video, photos and graduate names, majors and minors.