“May-cember.” I have been told that those who know and experience it, call the month of May “May-cember” because it feels so akin to the month of December in its predictably frantic, overprogrammed pace. Still catching my breath from having just attended scores of school graduations, music recitals, sports banquets, and end-of-year celebrations of all kinds in support of our assorted grandkids, I understand the coined name of the month we have recently completed. May-cember, indeed.

It may seem ironic or even mistaken to call a school graduation a “commencement.” Commencement, after all, means literally a beginning, a launch, an inception, or a genesis. Many of the traditional events held in May are, by definition, end-of-year or end-of-season events, conclusions, finishes, closures. And yet, the commonly used description of those closing events as “commencements” may be appropriate and even instructive. Every ending inevitably implies a beginning. End-of-year commencements are not stopping points, but rather transitions from one place or phase to another. Those pauses provide formal occasions to look both backwards and forwards with a determination to review, renew, and redo.

Review: Transitions of all kinds are opportunities to reflect upon a recently concluded event or experience with an honest and astute intention to identify the best, the worst, and everything in between of the recent experience.

Renew: Following an honest and thorough review, a seeker of truth makes a personal commitment to press on increasingly informed and determined to stay the course in some regards and make changes in others.

Redo: Without debilitating discouragement or shame, a lifelong learner turns away from the things that didn’t work well and embraces the opportunity to choose new behaviors and adopt a promising new plan to promote growth and fresh ways forward.

With an attitude of reviewing, renewing, and redoing deliberately and frequently, every ending can also provide an opportunity for a promising beginning – a commencement.

With that attitude of reviewing in mind, I attended my own blessed boatload of end-of-the-year events considering what I might learn from the celebrations to apply in my own way forward. Every sweet ceremony warranted lavish use of tissues to dry tender tears of gratitude for the children and grandchildren and the milestones we were honoring together.

One middle school graduation included a speech from our young, understated graduate who was determined not to add to the fanfare by alerting his fan club that he would be on the program. He and several other graduates were coached to ask themselves a list questions to access worthy material for the talks. In assorted ways, those young stars considered, “What have you loved this year?” “What have you learned?” “What will you miss?” “How have you grown?” “Who do you want to thank?” As we all listened, I jotted down my own answers to those simple but worthy questions.

Another ceremony was entitled, “Celebration of Heroes.” The Head of School elevated the event by immediately drawing our attention to the most significant successes of the year as “increases in feelings of unity, kindness, shared purpose,” and “contributions from even outsiders with clear eyes and full hearts.” He noted that he had watched both students and teachers “Talk with people, not about people; Assume goodwill; Start with a question or curiosity, not a complaint when they were unsure or stressed; Bring solutions to address concerns; Try to understand the other person’s point of view during times of disagreement.”

He continued by expressing his hope for everyone in their school community: “That we all connect with something bigger than ourselves and that our roots go deep and wide to reach beyond ourselves to achieve strength and to accomplish something grander than anyone could accomplish alone.”

As a final, sweeping statement of grand vision, he quoted a friend who said:

“In the world’s economy, you talk. In God’s economy, you listen.

In the world’s economy, you scroll. In God’s economy, you notice.

In the world’s economy, you purchase. In God’s economy, you create.”

All over the country, children of all ages accompanied and cheered by their multi-generational fans, were seated in auditoriums, clubhouses, stadiums, and assembly halls of all varieties to review events from the previous twelve months. Ideally, those victors and well-wishers left the important milestone celebrations to return to their homes and lives where they could renew their determination to press on. Best of all, they would commit to duplicating with invigorated energy the behaviors that were serving them and others well, and eliminating the ones that were not promoting their best selves.

Review. Renew. Redo.

Every day offers the promise of a commencement of sorts – a rebirth, a regeneration, a reactivation, a recovery – a new beginning with all the implicit promise of a sunrise and hours of subsequent daylight to follow. With the help of optimistic confidence, transitions and beginnings are all blessed occasions to both press on and to begin again.

Another school year complete. A new day upon us. A world of opportunity ahead.