Respected dignitaries on the dais, beloved colleagues, and graduating students,
Have you wondered how it feels when you’re aboard a ship going on a long voyage for the first time? What is the feel when the ship moves away from shore? You slowly lose sight of your loved ones and all familiar landmarks. Then it is all water everywhere.
But then what sustains you there? Hope! Hope of fulfilling your dreams, hope of a better tomorrow, and hope of a great journey ahead. My dear graduates and post graduates College of Nursing, you are soon going to be part of this situation I have just described. Life, my dear friends, is forward. There comes moments when we have to step out into the unknown and unmapped territories.
Let me briefly spell out three magic words that can light up your path ahead:
The first magic word I would like to shout out loud to you is the word LIFE.
We live in a world which is increasingly becoming hostile to life. The dignity of life is challenged everywhere. People are being reduced to labels, numbers, and even objects. It is in this context that we Nurses are called to nurture life, value life, cherish life, and bring health and healing to the world.
Have you understood the real impact of this? There was once a man, a common labourer in Europe who said, “I am building here a cathedral with the great Architect Sir Christopher Wren.” See, that person had the insight that though his role was to bring together the bricks and build the wall; he was engaged in a larger task of helping people worship God in a beautiful cathedral. He also had the sense of pride and dignity that he was working along with a great builder of cathedrals.
My dear Nursing graduates, you too are working along side our Creator God. He is in the business of giving life; and you along side with him are also engaged in helping people maintain healthy lives. Be thankful that God has entrusted you with this awesome privilige.
In this context let me remind you those beautiful lines from Michael Jackson,
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make it a better place
For you and for me.
The second magic word I would like to leave with you is PURPOSE.
In that classic movie Chariots of Fire which shows the Olympic Gold winning effort of Eric Liddel, there is a moment where he speaks his heart out to his sister Jennie. He says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Likewise you all are called to be nurses with a purpose—the purpose to care, to give hope, and to put confidence in people. This is a high calling in life. To fulifil that call, you may have to make personal sacrifices.
Lini Puthussery is one among us in Kerala who with great courage and dignity made a great sacrifice to take care of people infected with the Nipah Virus. She could have played it safe. But she chose to pursue the call of duty. Florence Nightingale could have played it safe duringthe Crimean war but she was ready to be used as an instrument of healing in God’s hands. Or take the example of Edith Cavell, a British nurse who was executed by the Germans for saving the lives of many soldiers during World War I. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.”
So my dear graduating students, you are on a mission with a purpose–the purpose to care, to give hope, and to put confidence in people while nursing them back to good health.
The third magic word I would like to bring to your attention is COMPASSION.
We live in the age of ever-happening technology. What is the impact of this? Many husbands know their mobile phones better than their wives and vice versa. With artificial intelligence making great progress; today life is becoming more and more mechanical and robotic. Lost is the time of family prayer and dinner together. We have also let go of simple conversations at home. Everybody is busy chatting with everyone else in the world but not with members of family.
As Mother Theresa noted, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
So know that most people who come into your care are poor. They may have houses, cars, jobs, and plenty of gold but they are emotionally and spiritually poor. What they need is compassion. One of the characteristics of Jesus during his earthly ministry was that he stopped to listen to the cry of individuals because he was moved with compassion.
Can you be a channel of God’s compassion? If yes, a healing beyond that of physical sicknesses can take place. That is a greater miracle.
Let me conclude. I would like to thank all of you for inviting me to deliver this graduation address. I am deeply thankful for the kind words of introduction too.
My dear graduating students you are now going to be angels of encouragement and hope. You are going to be carrying the light of hope in jars of clay. In yourselves you may feel weak and inadequate for the great task ahead. But let me wish and pray that God Almighty hold you by your right hand and lead you on your journey ahead.
Remember the three magic words.
God bless you all.