May is Graduation month.

Young people will be leaving elementary school and will soon be high shoolers. High schoolers will soon be leaving the comforts of their school behind and, in many cases, entering the challenging world of the university system. College kids will soon be leaving behind all (formal) learning to start their careers. With each of these milestones, we have a graduation.

The word “graduation” comes from the Latin word “gradas,” meaning “a degree.” Now you’re probably thinking of a piece of paper that says “congrats, you passed all your classes!” But there’s an secondary definition of “gradas” that sheds more light on the word. It also means “a step.” In other words, the word means “degree” as in “degrees” on a thermometer. The tiny dashes on a thermometer indicate the temperature being taken, as a child’s fever spikes, the degrees increase one mark at a time…one “step” at a time.’

The word “gradas” is the word from which we get the English word “gradual,” meaning “small, incremental steps.”

A “graduation” is the ceremony celebrating the taking of “a step.” A “graduate” is the one who takes the step. What is the step that is taken, you may ask; that depends on the graduate. If you choose to focus your education on law then you take a step to being a lawyer (you get a law “degree”). Would-be doctors take the necessary steps to obtain a medical “degree,” and so on.

Whatever you pursue in life, you must take that first step toward obtaining it. And then, you must take the next. And then the next. And you keep taking steps until you’ve become what you wanted to become.

Spiritual application?

Set your mind on becoming a faithful child of God. You may be in a very bad place right now, but don’t think about how long the journey ahead is; just take the first step. Gradually, steadily, consistently step out of the darkness and into the light of Christ.

And then, just keep stepping.