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What a wonderful day to celebrate 145 years of graduates finishing their time at Keystone College and stepping out into the world to make a positive difference.

Parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, spouses, cousins, friends, neighbors, and companions: thank you for supporting these graduates in their quest to attend Keystone College. The sacrifices you have made both emotionally and financially will have a long-lasting and positive effect for the next hundred years on your families and communities. In particular, parents, when you let your sons and daughters go, when you encouraged them come to Keystone, you gave them a chance at a life now full of possibilities as they join the 17,000 alumni found in every walk of life in this great country and the world.

Students, thank you for trusting in the Keystone Promise and selecting us. Thank you for choosing to persevere when others left. Thank you for giving your best, even when you weren’t sure what your best was, or which direction you wanted to go. Thank you for making this College—your College—a brilliant beacon of “progress through persistent effort” (our College motto is via fit-vi). You believed in us, you belonged to and persevered in a thoughtful community, and you have become bright young adults full of promise and promises kept. And along the journey you have made friends for life and learned with top notch professors and teachers.

About 2500 years ago in ancient Greece, two teachers were seeking to explain the cosmos in a deeper way. Parmenides of Elea taught that the cosmos is One. In his view, change is impossible; existence is timeless, unchanging Being, despite the world of appearances, in which one’s senses often lead to conceptions that are false.

Around the same time, another teacher and philosopher, Heraclitus (c.535 – c.475 BCE), taught the opposite and insisted that ever-present change is the true reality of the cosmos, as illustrated in his famous sayings, “No one ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and it’s not the same person.” And in another place he writes, “There is nothing permanent, except change.”

And so, the Great Conversation began for millennia where we have described this creative tension in philosophy as the one and the many, form and matter, substance and accident, being and becoming, essence and existence, coherence and coexistence, monism and pluralism, and unity and diversity—the last of which found its way onto the 1782 Great Seal of the United States, E pluribus unum, one from many.

At different times in history, and probably in your own personal histories, we have emphasized unity, and at other times, diversity was more meaningful to our learning and living. And similar to the natural biological world that changes and grows, takes on and loses color, lives and dies, so do we, depending upon our age or circumstances, live in different kinds of seasons of the mind and heart, emphasizing unity at some times or diversity at other times when we are transformed by learning, loss, living, and loving.

The 1966 film, A Man for All Seasons, portrays six years (1529-1535) in the life of Sir Thomas More, the 16th century Lord Chancellor of England, who took a singular stand and resigned from the service of King Henry VIII of England rather than profess an Oath of Supremacy to him, which eventually resulted in More’s execution. Robert Whittington, a contemporary of More, described him in 1520 as a “man of angel’s wit and singular learning . . . a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometimes of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.”

Today is one day among many seasons of celebration and learning in the short but wonderful time of your life. Central to these seasons of our lives are the people—family, friends, teammates, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors, children, and even strangers—who form a weave of relationships in an amazingly beautiful way between the one and many, our unity and diversity. People who are lost to us, such as Jake Burkardt and Tashandra Burton, whose empty chairs we have reserved in the front row as a remembrance of their short lives, fill us with Thomas More’s “sad gravity.” May I suggest that you take a stand and make a special effort today to show your gratitude to your parents, family, friends, teachers, and all those who made this day possible? Being thankful and grateful is never out of season.

There are many forms of the one reality of love, and I hope you leave today with a deep love of learning. You have been loved and challenged by your parents, peers, and teachers. You have spent years in the company of good friends who love you. Love is the ultimate measure of your life, for life without love has no seasons, no color, no beauty or gentleness or gratitude. Measure your life in love.

An education rooted in the liberal arts and sciences tradition, a Keystone College education, enables all of us, many and each one—to know important facts and skills to get a good job, but also to integrate the sensibilities and contexts of learning, and to learn how to learn, how to live meaningful, loving lives. Measure your life in love, and nothing else, not money, power, popularity, material goods, social status, none of these ever-changing and illusory things ultimately matter.

Today we celebrate you, graduates, and your families, as both one and many—one community comprised of many diverse members.  If along the way you or we have been careless, thoughtless, or we have let you down, then let us know so that we can try to make it right. It is never too late to repair a wrong, and it is never too late to reconcile, to choose wholeness and healing because we are one in our strengths and weaknesses, unity in diversity, in the Keystone College educational community. Such an education leads us to the convictions that it is better to live a generous life, an examined life, an interdependent life, and a virtuous life lived in love. And when one of you succeeds, invite others into your success. And when another fails or suffers, be there to help and support each other.

Come back to visit us often. Love’s seasons can stretch and be appreciated when we live attentively, mindfully, deliberately. Winter, spring, summer, or fall; catch a snowflake on your tongue, enjoy a good snowball scuffle with your children, listen to the rain, wade in the streams, sing along with a bird, smell the flowers, join a team or music group or volunteer organization, and look for fiery sunsets and leaves that appear to blaze in late autumn that signal a new academic year has begun at Keystone College, and come back to enjoy Homecoming Weekend.

Finally, I invite you to nurture a heart that is willing to learn, is open to surprises, thinks critically, forgives quickly, and is unafraid to wrestle with impasse. Live your lives fully in a profession, a career, a cause, a community, a promise, and make your heart and home full of love and song, as we have tried to do here in this caring and dynamic College.

[Keystone Chorale begins to sing]

We are a community for all seasons, friends for all seasons, a place of learning for all seasons, and love for all seasons. Keystone is your college for all seasons.

“Seasons of Love,” by Jonathan D. Larson

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love (love)
Seasons of love (love)

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned or the way that she died

It’s time now to sing out though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love (Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love (You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love (Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love (Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love (love)
Seasons of love (love) (Measure your life, measure your life in love)

Published by © Universal Music Publishing Group