A couple of days ago, on Sunday, May 12th, I was given a wonderful opportunity: to offer the convocation address to the 2019 graduating classes in the Faculties of Arts, Education and Theology at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
As I removed the clip
that held the pages of my text intact, I looked out over the sea of faces
looking towards me: parents, grandparents, faculty and administrators of Acadia
University, other distinguished platform guests, and of course, the recently
My mind was flooded
with two thoughts: what did the future hold for this group of (mostly) young
people with newly conferred degrees?
And, would I be able to present with passion and conviction my address
(aka: would I mess up?)?
I delivered what I had
prepared, focusing on three points: (1) remember to be grateful; (2) try to be
part of the solution rather than part of the problem; and (3) choose
peacemaking and practice mentorship.
We all need to learn
to be grateful; gratefulness is not sexy, or innovative, or modern, but it sure
is in short supply and goes a long way to creating a productive, contented,
life. With equality and equity as
concepts near to our hearts, and random acts of kindness part of our routine of
living, we counter the trend toward entitlement. And, by sowing seeds of tolerance and
acceptance, and practicing compromise whenever possible, we can all work
towards being generous of spirit. I
believe this is a message for us all.
As I joined the
graduating students for photos on the beautiful grounds at Acadia, a young man
approached me to share his own childhood story of witnessing abuse at
home. “Thank you so much for what you
discussed today and for the work you do,” he said, “it means a lot to people
like me.” We talked about all the ways
that both of us have been, and continue to be, involved in building awareness
about intimate partner violence.
He shared how he had
tried as a small boy to take the weapon from his father’s hand. On Mother’s Day, the day we were speaking
together, he was reminded how grateful he was that she had left the violence
behind and created a beautiful life for them both, free from the abuse they had
As I walked away from
this conversation, my eyes were drawn to the beautiful forsythia shrubs that
were in full bloom—yellow, bold and showy.
Showy with a short season, I thought.
Working to end
violence and to respond with compassion and best practices to all who are
impacted is work that can seem never ending.
It is important work. And there
is always room for more to join in and help to create safer spaces for all.
Nancy Nason-Clark, May 14, 2019