Friends, I cannot describe the feelings which I experienced today. Most of the day I felt extremely nervous, the same kind I felt on our wedding day. Everything had to be co-ordinated, planned and had absolutely no option of panning out in ways surprising to me. Then I moved into a place where I had to surrender and forced myself to experience this moment and to appreciate its magnitude, for it may only occur once or twice in a lifetime.
As we entered the auditorium, I was overwhelmed by the history and the mystery of academia and knew that this is where I am supposed to be. Some may call it "calling", but I am suspicious of this term. It is used too flippantly, cheaply and doesn't resonate with my sense of being. What I felt was belonging, the kind of belonging that sparks in a young mind when it does not make sense for a puzzle piece to fit in a particular place, but when you try it there, it fits and the picture blends. Do you know what I mean?
And so I took mental pictures of the entire proceedings. I didn't read the programme once, because I wanted to feel the graduation. Sitting right in front, I looked each graduate in the eye, took note of their achievement and applauded wholeheartedly 128 times. Then it was my turn to walk onto the stage. My supervisor, Prof. Conrad Wethmar stepped forward and introduced me to the vice-chancellor. Then he read the following:
In his thesis, The notion of mission in Karl Barth's ecclesiology, the promovendus explores the identity of the Christian church in the light of present-day challenges such as globalisation, the rise of different socio-political orders and a growing tendency towards a post-modern understanding of the world. As heuristic research mechanism, he used the ecclesiology of the well known Swiss theologian Karl Barth. This enables him to confirm that this identity should be found in the notion of a mission directed at the church itself, at other religions, the State and the a-religious. The manner in which the candidate described these relationships proved to be a meaningful contribution to the current rethinking of the church's role in present-day South Africa.I couldn't blink. I shook the vice-chancellor's hand and was then received by a whole queue of academics, each saying "Congratulations Doctor".
After the graduation I was re-united with the people that made this experience possible. First, to Natalie: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Whenever I feel depressed, you chase me to my study to read. You know what makes me tick. I love you. Then my parents: thank you for your constant love and support and being proud of us. Family and friends: Jacques, Michelle and Rene: Thank you! And then also thanks to all others. Before it gets too mushy...
We returned home and Matthew was still awake. He waited up for us. He crept up behind me and gave me a big squeeze. I couldn't say anything. I took off my cap and placed it on his head. Hopefully he will get his own one day.
Thanks to all for your prayers for today. It was really special and a day I will remember for the rest of my life.