In his Baccalaureate address to Washington and Lee University's Class of 2010 on Wednesday, the Rev. William M. Klein, pastor of Lexington Presbyterian Church, challenged the graduates to become people of integrity.
The annual Baccalaureate service was held under bright sunshine on the University's historic Front Campus and began the activities that will culminate in Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 27, at 10 a.m., when 411 members of the Class of 2010 will receive bachelor's degrees.
Klein, who has been pastor of Lexington Presbyterian since 1995, said that the word "integrity" is used so randomly nowadays that it has lost its substance.
A person of integrity, he said, is a whole person, a person somehow undivided. "The word implies not so much single-mindedness as completeness," he said.
"My hope is that your legacy is such that your names will come to mind when faculty, administrators and fellow students are asked to name people who personify wholeness, completeness, integrity," he said.
A bicycle enthusiast who frequents the rural roads of Rockbridge County, Klein said that, during his rides, he notices a paradox.
"The physical beauty that I observe from my bicycle fills me with delight. But it also fills me with a deep concern for the beauty and preserving that beauty and being a good steward of the environment," he said. "The signs of poverty I see from my bicycle don't simply fill me with sorrow, they lead me to take steps to address the physical and spiritual needs that too many of my neighbors face every day."
He told the students that their four years at W&L have instilled in them a lifelong aptitude for noticing. "By this, I mean a way of being in the world, a way of being a whole person, a way of approaching the world not just with half-vision, but with the eyes of the mind and the eyes of the heart wide open."
Becoming whole people takes hard work, said Klein, adding that it also takes one another's support in the form of mutual accountability.
"Plan to think about integrity, read about it, surround yourself with people who really are people of integrity, decide to be people of integrity," he said. "If you do, you will be a blessing to this University, to your families, to the profession you choose, to the community you choose to call home, and to your God. And you will live in your own skin more peaceably."