Thursday, August 04, 2005

Baptised and Graduated

In all the comings and goings, meetings and partings, I think about why it is that some of the most beautiful things pass you by most quickly. Is beauty by definition fleeting?

Three years of Oxford have just hurtled by in the blink of an eye, and I now leave Oxford baptised and graduated.

Finals ended, finally. 3rd of June was a happy day. Thanks to everyone who was there to share the joy (in person or in "spirit" - ah the wonders of modern technology...)

12th of June saw me down by the riverside getting baptised. It's something that I've wanted to do for a really long time - to publicly declare my faith - but I've always held back.

However at just the right time, and not a moment too soon, I finally felt ready. I felt for the first time that I knew what I believed, that I was utterly convinced of what I believed, and that I wanted to shout to the world what I believed.

And this is what I said.

"Hi, my name is Peishan.
When I was 4, they told the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in kindergarten, and ever since then I've been absolutely convinced of the existence of God.

But it's only quite recently that I truly understood what it really means to follow Jesus - what it means to be loved by a God who loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us so that we might live.

And so today, this is for me,

A declaration of faith
An acceptance of grace
And a celebration of love."

Back home for 3 weeks, then back to Oxford again to graduate and to say my final goodbyes. The graduation ceremony was charmingly traditional (most of it was in Latin), we did a lot of bowing and our gowns looked really great. (They were, after all, by Ede and Ravenscroft, royal robemakers since 1689.)

We were reminded of how we were part of a tradition that stretched back over 800 years, what a privilege it was, and how we should always bear the name of Oxford proudly. I shall always be proud to consider myself an Oxonian, to consider myself part of this venerable institution, this seamless blend of change and continuity, steeped in history and yet always moving forward.

Our tutor told us at Schools dinner that we are remembered by the year which we metriculate (joined the university) as opposed to the American tradition of being part of a graduating class. There is none of that boundless, extravagant American optimism that would see us marking the year in which we were all sent forth into the world to make it a better place. He said he preferred to think of membership in an Augustinian sense, there being a Church in heaven and a Church on earth, and us being remembered by the year in which we became members of the Church of Lincoln (or more generally Oxford). For that is when we joined and this is where we shall always remain.

We said our goodbyes as we each went our separate ways, knowing that the years would bring us together again, here and there, now and then, but also sad with the knowledge that it will never really ever be the same. But perhaps it shouldn't, for isn't change is the only thing that is constant? Yet I can't help wondering if what is beautiful never really lasts.

But we are together always, in memory and in love.

And I only know of one beautiful thing that truly lasts forever.