It was close to 4 years ago when I was asked to give the closing prayer at the end of the church service. It was the Sabbath just before Kristin started college at William and Mary. I had just started my prayer when I got to “…please be with Kristin….” At that point the dam broke loose.
When Kristin started her senior year in high school, I was already getting sentimental. On that Sabbath day, my emotions got the upper hand (yet again). I was sobbing so much that people, even members of our own family, were worried that there was something terribly wrong with Kristin’s health. I was finally able to sputter out my request that Yahweh keep Kristin safe as she left for college. Later someone asked where she was going. Then he asked how far away was William and Mary. Zee replied, “Just down the road.” I got a lot of ribbing that day.
Graduating from high school meant Kristin would be leaving her home and the protection of her Mom and Dabby. It was a major milestone in her life. Even though William and Mary was “just down the road,” Kristin’s going to college meant another step in her growing up. And that made me very emotional.
But William and Mary really was “just down the road,” and we got to see Kristin often, especially during special family gatherings.
And so arrived graduation weekend for The College of William and Mary Class of 2016. Kristin and her family were able to attend the Baccalaureate and the traditional candlelight ceremony on Friday night. They spent the Sabbath together while the main graduation ceremony took place. Because the students with Kristin’s major were to receive their diplomas on Saturday, Miriam had asked for special permission for Kristin to march on Sunday. Yahweh provided the opportunity for Kristin to walk with the government department. (As Ninong Zee said, the sign read “The Government Department & Kristin Rodil”.) So our family congregated outside the iconic Wren on Sunday morning, May 15, 2016 to see Kristin receive her diploma for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a Minor in Hispanic Studies.
It turned out to be a beautiful day. The weather was cool and sunny. The atmosphere was dignified and, at the same time, warm and inviting. The ceremony was a wonderful end to Kristin’s four, straight-A years of college. And it brought to mind all the blessings Yahweh had poured out on her and her family. Yahweh blessed Kristin with the ability to excel academically, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Because she and her family honored Yahweh by keeping His Sabbath, Yahweh provided a way for Miriam and Donald to hear the announcement of their eldest child’s name and to see her march in her cap and gown to receive her diploma. And if that weren’t enough, He provided the best venue and wonderful weather for our family and friends to witness this special event. What a wonderful testament to the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise to bless His children who obey Him. Because of Donald and Miriam’s faithfulness, Yahweh blessed their daughter. But graduation day was more than a day to acknowledge Kristin’s academic success. It was a day to commemorate her own faithfulness to Yahweh and her devotion to her Savior, Yeshua Messiah.
After the picture-taking and the wonderful reception provided by the proud parents, I was blessed yet again. I was able to witness possibly one of the most beautiful walks on a most beautiful day. Kristin wanted to visit some special places on campus for one last time as a student. First Kristin walked across the Crim Dell Bridge (with Zechariah so that she wouldn’t “die alone”). As I took pictures, Miriam videoed Kristin crossing over the bridge. (And, as a side note, Aiden and Andrew crossed over afterwards, thus sealing their togetherness forever – since Aiden decided not to throw Andrew over). After Andrew and Aiden left, Zechariah and I followed as Kristin bid farewell to TJ (the Thomas Jefferson statue).
Then Kristin made her way to the Wren. Tradition is that when the students start as freshmen, they walk through the Wren building toward the Sunken Garden to begin their journey at William and Mary. On the convocation day, the graduating seniors walk through the Wren in the opposite direction, I suppose to symbolize their leaving the halls of William and Mary. Because Kristin chose not to participate in the Saturday events, she missed the traditional walk. The Wren was locked during the diploma ceremony, but Miriam saw people coming out of the building later. So she took Kristin to take “the walk.”
I stood back to take pictures again as Miriam videoed. The scene struck me as one of the most powerful demonstrations of a mother-child relationship. Twenty-two and a half years ago I watched as Miriam brought Kristin into the world. Through the years she cared for Kristin and protected her to the best of her ability. She helped Kristin roll over, sit up, crawl, then walk, and then run. She helped her learn her lessons – both in school and in life. She supported her endeavors and let her explore and learn away from home but was always “just down the road” if needed. As Miriam stood behind as Kristin walked through the Wren, and then followed her at a distance to the other side, I realized that what Miriam did was symbolic of her next great act of love. She would be letting her daughter pass through the hall—the transition from childhood to adulthood—alone. In a way she was releasing Kristin into another world—a world far from home in a new setting with a whole new set of experiences. But her distant presence let Kristin know that she was still there for her.
It takes a brave parent, a loving parent, to let her child spread her wings in pursuit of her dreams. But Miriam and Donald prepared Kristin well. You could see it in the excitement in Kristin’s eyes and the happy anticipation in her smile as she turned to look at her mom just before entering the hall of the Wren. Kristin was ready to take on her new challenge.
As we helped the Rodils pack up and clear Kristin’s dorm room for the last time, I was grateful for all the times Miriam and Donald invited us to participate in their family’s special events. It has been a privilege to witness the love, devotion and protectiveness of Donald for his family. But as a mother, I will always remember the final walk through the campus of The College of William and Mary that a devoted mother took with her equally devoted daughter.
Congratulations to Miriam and Donald—you have done an excellent job raising a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a heart devoted to Yahweh and family and for the pursuit of excellence. She has learned from your example. My standing ovation to you.
Congratulations to Julie and Lindsey – you made your sister look wonderful for her graduation. Your love and devotion for each other is so inspiring. I’ve enjoyed watching you all grow up and look forward to your celebrations.
Congratulations and many blessings to Kristin Marcella Rodil, Summa Cum Laude – the newest alumni of The College of William and Mary. I couldn’t be more proud of you. You never wavered from your faith and obedience to Yahweh, your love for your family, and your commitment to your moral values. In turn, Yahweh has blessed you by giving you the desires of your heart. Next stop—Georgetown!
My Prayer to you is from Psalm 20:4 (NIV): “May He (Yahweh) give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Kristin: As you continue to walk with Yahweh through your next adventure, may your pathway be filled with wonder and excitement and blessings. I love you – Yaya.