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Thought for the weekend

Allen Sleith, Hillsborough Presbyterian Church

I was over at our son's graduation in Edinburgh this week. As is the case with such ceremonial occasions there was much pomp and lots of pride as each family circle basked in the glow of educational achievement in the grand setting of the Usher Hall.

For those present the magical moment was their own loved one. Groomed and gowned and having had their award and name read out, they walked across the stage to shake hands with the Chancellor and pick up their certification.

It only took about 30 seconds, but it was more than worth it.

Most of the rest of the proceedings were pretty much as you'd expect.

Formal processions, a short but beautiful musical interlude and then the happy ritual of congratulations, numerous photos and celebratory meals.

What wasn't expected was one of the faculty tripping as he left his seat at the very end, crashing down three levels of seating at the front stage on his back.

The poor man lay still for a few moments but was helped to his feet and thankfully walked unaided to a side door away from prying eyes. I hope the worst that's happened to him was a mild case of embarrassment.

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The speech by the Chancellor, Dr David Eustace was as good as it was short.

He spoke of seeing a piece of graffiti in New York some years ago which he illustrated on two screens but which I can only render here in words.

The first screen showed the words 'You are here' at the bottom with a straight line pointing up to the words 'Dreams and successes' at the top.

That smooth, straight simple progression from bottom to top might well be what we want but life's rarely, if ever, like that.

The second screen showed the same words at the bottom and top with a straight line going up a bit until it became a crazy maze of circles and swirls and zigzags, before becoming a straight line once more up to the top.

And that, he said, is what each of us will really confront - truth and success emerging, one trusts, from the inevitable entanglements of hard-won experience in which confusion is interwoven with insight and progress.

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