By the Rev. Matthew Ichihashi Potts, Ph.D. '13
Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals
Faculty of Divinity
It is my privilege to draw our ceremonies to a close this day with words of benediction and blessing.
In its ancient roots, the act of benediction does not confer goodness, it honors it. Blessing is a way of seeing, not a way of making things good but a way of seeing what is already good.
In that ancient spirit then, class of 2022, and on behalf of the colleagues and honored guests on this stage, on behalf of the family and friends crowding this tercentenary theater and watching from near and far, let me say: I see you. We see you. We see how good you are.
Bless you for all you have given to this university these last years. Rarely in the long history of this admirable institution has a group of students faced as much disruption, unrest, and dis-ease. Rarely has a group of students met tumult with such grace.
Bless you for your intelligence, for the insight you brought to your studies, as well as for the understanding with which you reckoned our upturned world.
Bless you for your diligence, for the rigor of your scholarship, as well as for the energy with which you have met each mounting obstacle.
Bless you for your resilience, for your resolve in wrestling with stubborn intellectual problems, as well as for your persistence in facing the material and moral challenges of each day.
Bless you for your courage, for braving grief and fear and uncertainty and catastrophe and loss. Bless you for your courage.
Harvard graduates: our world is deeply broken in manifold ways. We must acknowledge that our shouts of celebration today, as good and worthy as they are, join cries of anguish echoing from Uvalde and Buffalo and Laguna Woods and countless other places, they join cries of sadness and despair which rise from sites of violence around this wide earth, indeed from the earth itself.
You, class of 2022, you have blessed us with your intelligence, your diligence, your resilience, your courage. We have seen these blessings, and we see you. We also see a world in desperate need of intelligence, diligence, resilience, and courage. Having blessed us, you now are charged with the duty of bearing these blessings to our wider world. The need is desperate and immense. But the task couldn’t fall to a better – or better prepared – group of people.
Dear graduates: May you enjoy every blessing this day and always. Go in peace, and become for our world the blessing you have already been to us.