Undoubtedly, this will be the most asked question over the next few days: What did ya' get? It's Leaving Cert results day, a day we all remember. Though over time we come to realise that this day, though important, is just one of many important days we will experience: a milestone.
Milestones were used in the past to mark distance on a journey, long before big blue motorway signs. They were very significant as they allowed the traveller to figure out how far they had come and if they were going in the right direction or not. The Leaving Cert is one of life's milestones. It is an opportunity to see where you have come from since you began your school career at the age of 4 or 5..a long way, no doubt! It also allows you to check the direction you want to go in from now on. However, the thing is that there are always a few directions to go. Some may seem to be right at the start and when we travel a bit we decide that they are not so good. Some may be good from the start and continue to be good. Some may be influenced by others and not really the direction we want to go in. Some may even seem closed off to us at this point in time.
From my own experience, I have been down all those options since I left school until I reached a point when I had the confidence, courage and experience to be able to chose a road that was a narrower path but one I really wanted to go down. I couldn't have done this at 17 when I left school or even at 27! I could only do it when the time was right for me and that's the point... each path, each direction we take teaches us something. Sometimes this lesson is difficult or challenging and sometimes uplifting: that's part of the deal. Hidden in each turn we take is a milestone carved just for us and on it are three things:
- The direction we have come from and the distance we have travelled;
- where WE want to go and how far away it still is and finally
- where GOD needs us to be and the direction we need to travel in for that.
We often don't pause at this milestone to appreciate just how far we have come, to be thankful for that journey, no matter what we have encountered along the way and to appreciate all those people who have made that journey possible. Imagine if we did pause....how different would then next leg of the journey be?
Often we can be so focused on what WE want for us that we don't even see the part of the milestone that tells us what GOD needs from us, it can be overgrown and hidden by our own desires for success, achievement and recognition. When we stop, for a short while at this milestone, we will see that there are other options, other ways forward. We will see that we have an opportunity to clear the growth from the stone and see the whole picture.
Leaving Cert results day, and the time that follows, is a great rite of passage for everybody involved: students, parents and teachers. It is a time of celebration, whatever the results say. Most of all, it is a time of beginning, beginning a new leg of the journey. So maybe an answer to the question 'What did ya' get?' is 'I got time to pause, to breathe, to be thankful and try to see the whole of the milestone that is in front of me'.
Sucess to all who begin the next leg of their journey today...be assured for our prayerful companionship along the road.