Commencement

Sarah Walters

Sarah Walters '19
Baccalaureate Remarks
May 18, 2019

What is life if not a journey?

I like to think of it most that way when I am stressed out, when I feel at a loss, broken, and hopeless. When something has ended in a way I didn’t expect, or something meant to pan out in the end just didn’t pan out.

Life is a journey, perhaps, because in these difficult moments we grow even more as people than we do when everything feels immediately good and right.
Perhaps failure is far more potent, far more formative, than success, in shaping who we become. Perhaps failure is a blessing.

I remember singing the T’filat Haderech, the prayer for a journey, every time I attended synagogue growing up. I hear it in my head often when things come to a close or when I find resolve in the failures I face in life. But I think that the reason this prayer speaks to me is not the reason I have believed. I have found comfort in its melody, but I have often neglected to focus on just what this prayer is for. I have forgotten its hopes. Its faith in me.

When I hear the T’filat Hadarech, I should allow myself to be open as it instills in me the knowledge that I am ever-growing. That endings are also beginnings. That journeys, ebbing and flowing, never really stop but rather only change.

Indeed, I have recalled this prayer many times in these past four years, and I know so many of us have had these moments of uncertainty. In these times I have been lifted back onto my feet by communities who remind me who I am, by dear friends who hold me close when I need it the most, by family who remains by my side through every twist and turn, no matter how rough. I find all of them in this prayer, this blessing. Each of them is a blessing.

Our years so far are just the beginning of so many more to come. They are the foundation of a journey, of our journey. And as we go, I hope that we will do so with the knowledge that there will always be times when we will want to stop, to fall down, to rest a while. We will want to take a break from this journey. We may feel the journey has stopped without us.

I assure you right now that we will always get up. That those who love us, our communities, our families, the people who believe in us, will be there to help. And you will be that force for others too. Failure is a blessing because it helps us to grow, because it teaches us about ourselves, because it strengthens the communities, the bonds, that matter.

So, to the Classes of 2019, families, friends. I want to leave you with my own, my new interpretation of this prayer for a journey:

As we go on this journey, may we be blessed.
May we walk in peace.
May we walk in pride.
May we fail one hundred times, and may we be lifted to our feet one hundred and
        one.
May we accept ourselves for all we are.
May our paths be those of justice.
May our paths be those of kindness.
May we help others.
May we live in joy.
May our eyes remain open so that we may see the vast extent of this road we are
        on.
And may we always remember home.

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Commencement 2019

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.