Are we really turning into our parents? Will our kids turn into us? These were questions I pondered while attending my son’s graduation from Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
We missed George W. Bush’s commencement address at Calvin by only one year. The president had entertained the grads by poking fun at his struggles with the English language.
President Bush was funny but he lacked a personal connection to the college. The two speakers we heard were Calvin alumni. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s speech contained a memorable image: he told the graduates to look at the world through two eyes”one eye from the mind, the other from the heart. This was the most eloquent graduation address I’d heard since Joe graduated from Middle School. The student that day said that Forest Park graduates should be street smart as well as book smart.
The other main speaker was Gerald Gabrielse, a scientist who examines electrons and other teeny-tiny elements of the universe. He doesn’t see any conflict between science and religion. He believes, “It makes God happy when we try to figure out how he put the world together.”
I’ve felt the same way since I was old enough to spell science. I can’t understand why religious people don’t embrace scientific knowledge as an enhancement of God’s grandeur. However, at the post-commencement celebration, I found myself alone in this opinion. This mystified me. My kids had been required to read “Inherit the Wind” in high school. In the play, the prosecution wins by fining the evolutionist $10, but didn’t the defense attorney have all the best lines?
So, maybe my kids won’t turn out like me. I couldn’t be prouder of my son, though. He is a true product of Forest Park. He was educated here, played sports on local teams and worked at the Park to help pay for college. He likes Forest Park so much, he considers himself and his friends “townies.”
As for me turning into my dad, that occurred the day after graduation. We were playing golf with two of Joe’s roommates and their dads. It was about 40 degrees on the course, with a biting 20 mph wind. My sweatshirt felt inadequate, so I grabbed a fleece that someone had left in my car.
“Are you really going to wear that?” Joe asked. It was electric blue, seemed sort of feminine and went down to my knees. It was the kind of emergency garment my dad would put on. Women’s winter wear was OK with him, if it meant staying warm. After serving in Northern Europe during World War II, he never wanted to be cold again.
My dad also took a strange delight in struggling on the golf course. He figured the higher the score, the more honest he was. So, there I was, wearing my mother-in-law’s fleece, playing the worst golf of my life and thoroughly pleased to be playing alongside the new graduate. My dad would have loved it, too”right down to the last electron.