Graduation ceremonies are all the same, or so I am told. It is simple. You file in all serious, robe set in place, tassel located on the right, big, bright smile on your face, hear a number of speeches, receive your diploma, move the tassel to the left, and throw your hat in the air at the end of it. What joyful cries are supposed to rise from among that group of people, never to be all together at once ever again. But, my graduation? It was just slightly different.
I did not walk out to our ceremony under the sun rays, but rather under drizzling rain and cloudy skies. I somehow missed the memo that smiling was a requirement (though my walking buddy did bring it out of me on our way down the path with his witty batter). The tassel was on the right side; thank goodness I remembered that. I did not expect the flashes of cameras nor the waving hands that greeted me nor the packed stadium in front of me. I was only able to half understand the speeches since I missed most of the inside jokes due to only being with this group of people three and a half years.
And the receiving your diploma part, it was okay. I mean, I got the certificate and all and I looked pretty, sure. But, in my heart, that diploma was only another sheet of paper that had yet to leave a true impression on my life. I was smiling though, as I was ordered to do. I think most of it came from the heart, and maybe a sparkle found its way into my eyes as I contemplated His grace in bringing me through and teaching me everything I was to learn in this phase of my life. But, as I stepped down from that stage, I did not feel that jolt of excitement or just pure happiness that it was all over. God was soon to change that in the most unexpected way.
I took my seat again and simply looked up. The sky had grown dark and threatening and the cold wind was blowing through my not so warm clothing choice. With a predictable outcome, big rain drops came falling from the sky. Soon, those big drops were joined by millions upon millions of other ones; we were in a down pour. With the rain soaking through my clothing and with me preoccupied with my desperate attempts to save both my diploma and my cell phone from water damage, I actually smiled. This was not a fake or half-hearted smile. This was a pure and utterly joyful and thankful smile. My heart was laughing; God had chosen to communicate His love and His presence with the highly unusual graduation downpour.
Maybe I need to tell a secret before you all can totally understand my seeing Him in a downpour that may obviously appear as something that would be the ruin of a perfect ceremony. I love the rain. I love the dark skies, the cool winds, the magnificent displays of lightening shows, the ominous, twisting clouds that threaten destruction, and the booming thunder claps that shake the earth. Why do I love it? Because it brings out my spirit, my heart, the true feelings that only God has seen. I am trapped inside this body and held to its limits and the things that are safe to do in this world. But the truth is, I am wild at heart. I love to defy the odds and to push myself to the limits. I find God in the midst of my wild attempts or wild dreams. He is there. He is even more real.
And what do I mean by wild at heart? I am myself. And He is there because I feel no shame to be who I am and who I want to be. I can aspire; I can dream; I can laugh; I can cry; I can dance; I can sing; I can love Him with every piece of my being because I am not limited by this world. But, sometimes, I need that reminder. I need to see the rain, the storms, the danger. I need to see it in order to always remember that I can be wild and I can be free because I am all of those things in Him.
I just watched that rain fall, in sheets and torrents. I felt it drench my body to the skin in one of the few times that He caught me in a moment where I simply could not run for cover. He placed me in an atmosphere where astonished people enjoyed a unique graduation. While I sat there, huddled up in order to keep some warm blood flowing through my veins and to protect the certificate and cell phone, I could not help but think of how much He loved me and how much He knew me. I could not even imagine the sparkle the shined from His eyes when I thought my eyes had never shined so brightly. I could not comprehend how He chose just the right moment and just the right place to let the rain fall, to let His blessings come in the form of tangible objects, to remind me that I am truly and fully and always will be, wild at heart.