I have always loved traditions.
Going away to college, I left a lot of traditions behind as I began a new journey in an entirely new place. I was excited, but I worried that my experience would be just like the one my friends were having back home in Indiana. Was it really worth going to a small private school where I didn’t know anyone? Greenville amended this worry within my first weekend. In the blur of NSO there was one ceremony that solidified my choice. The Ivy Planting.
At Greenville University, before their first courses begin, the freshman join as a class to plant ivy in large pot that sits in the middle of campus. This signifies that, together, we will grow as a class academically and spiritually. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We will always be connected because we chose Greenville.
For a person in love with tradition, it didn’t get much better than that. Until, of course, my senior year when it was time to cut the ivy.
The night before graduation, the senior class gathers together to hold an entire length of ivy. They are reminded of how much they have grown in the past four years, of their bond as classmates, and of the calling they originally felt towards academia, spirituality, character, and service. After praying blessings over the graduating class, the president cuts the ivy in between each person, signifying their individual accomplishments and readiness for the next step.
It was incredibly difficult, as a senior, to watch the ivy between my classmates, many of whom had transformed from strangers to friends, become severed. For a moment, I felt like the Ivy Planting I had loved so much as a freshman would be forever tainted by this new tradition. Then we were all reminded that, while we were now going our separate ways and our ivy was cut, our relationships were so much more than a place and a plant. As a graduating class, we were off to do great things, but we would always be connected to Greenville.
So, today, I want to celebrate traditions and the connection to the Greenville community that remains unbroken.
(By the way, yes, you do get to keep your ivy!).