Cary Christian School’s class of 2022 graduated on May 19. This year our salutatorian was Lynn Kong and our valedictorian was Colin Massey. One of the highlights of every CCS graduation is the privilege of hearing the wise and eloquent words delivered by our valedictorian and salutatorian, and this year was no exception.
“The witch shook her head… ‘Put away all these childish tricks,’” she said. “‘There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan…. let us begin a wiser life tomorrow… without foolish dreams.’” In C.S. Lewis’s story, Puddleglum and his companions were slowly falling prey to her spell. They were prisoners in the underworld – deep below the Narnian soil. The witch claimed that her cavernous, dark underworld was the real world in an attempt to convince her prisoners that their Narnia was all a dream. (It wasn’t.)
And Puddleglum breaks through the spell and asserts, “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one… I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia… we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland.”
Puddleglum gets it. He has hope and assurance in the goodness of the reality of Narnia when – to him – that Overworld seemed most illogical.
I would like to thank our teachers at Cary Christian School for always keeping us anchored in the Overland – in the spiritual realm always just around the corner: for keeping us aware of the spiritual ramifications of our actions, for holding us accountable for the theological implications of our often-foolish statements, and for keeping us wholly rooted in the Biblical truth that is our bridge to our Overland, our Narnia, our true heavenly home. Even when it seemed most illogical.
But why are you really here? Mr. Bates sometimes tells us why he is here. “To love you guys,” he says, “to love you.” Thank you, teachers, for loving us inside and outside of the classrooms: for advising our theses and our clubs, for coming to our sporting events and our performances, for giving us tea, hugs, Jesus-wept-quizzes, books, testimonies, and so much more.
Thank you, parents, for sending us to a magical place, a place that – for many of us – has truly become a home over the years. And thank you, peers, for making our grade such a great community, though I should really call it a family. (We even have our own mom and dad.) Throughout the years we have picked strawberries, toured a battleship, gotten heat stroke at camp Sea Farer, put on some great drama productions, won the football state championship for the first time in school history, and served a poor Tennessee community – together.
But this awesome family is about to disperse. We are about to find new homes and build new families. We will be trudging into a broken world. Though they may be disguised as renowned professors, cheerful friends, or concerned peers, many a witch will try to put us under a spell, hoping to convince us to abandon our Christian faith. We will be jumping down into a cavernous, dark world. But still – like Puddleglum’s charge – set out in the dark and spend your life looking for the Overland. Even when it seems most illogical.
But do not do good deeds in the dark world in order to get into the Overland – to get into heaven – one day. Do good deeds because you were created in the image of the overLord, in the image of God. Set out in the dark, look for God, and be a light to others because you desire to live as like a Christian as you can even when it seems most illogical. I hope that in 100 years people do not remember CCS graduates as doctors, architects, lawyers, dentists, soldiers, or singers, but as mini-Christs.
When life seems the hardest, have hope in the Lord and let suffering purify your soul. I could never say it better than the poet John Donne. After Mr. Cook introduced us to this poem, it has never left my mind. Listen to the words:
Batter my heart, three person’d God; for you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new…for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
God is strong when we hurt, for “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” as the book of Romans reminds us. So do not fear to pray “Batter my heart, God, make me new.” And when you suffer in the dark world, be sure to find a community – if not a family – to surround you as God works within you.
It is going to be hard for me to leave this campus. I could not begin to count the hours I have spent here. We have joined hands, huddled up, fallen in love, and had the best of times here together. Cherish that time, but do not live in the past. Take a plunge into the world and be a light to others. “Have the remembrance of [these] past joyes, for reliefe of coming ills.” Be like Puddleglum and embrace the truth of God even when it seems most illogical.
Class of 2022, it is time for us to graduate. Thank you.