By Luci Tapahonso
For the graduates of the University of Arizona.
This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness:
the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land,
and all animals and humankind.
We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary
accomplishment of earning doctoral or master’s degrees.
We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children,
family members, and friends who have traveled with them
on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here
this morning: we honor their devotion.
May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.
We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived
on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories,
and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O’odham
in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate
accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.
May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead.
May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.
We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues.
Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories.
May each of us remember to share our stories with one another,
because it is only through stories that we live full lives.
May the words we speak go forth as bright beads
of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration.
We have faith that the graduates will inspire others
to explore and follow their interests.
Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:
Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside.
They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again.
We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration
for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.
Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue
mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us
the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.
Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk.
They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts’aa’,
the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.
The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night’s darkness;
their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that,
though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened
by the prayers of our forebearers.
We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered,
and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys.
We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił,
and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił.
We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains
that help us negotiate our daily lives.
May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.
May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom
and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.
We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.
May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize
that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that
we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful,
Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.
All is beautiful again.