Sunday, January 8, 2012

To every thing there is a season.

My grandfather passed away last week. We were close and i loved him very much. But i do not feel that i have suffered at all as a result of his death. i do and will surely always miss him in some way. Of course we would all prefer if he (and all of our loved ones) could keep on living and continue showing up to our parties, talking with us on the phone, being there for us physically and emotionally. We would prefer that he hadn't smoked the cigarettes that gave him the emphysema that surely shortened his life, we would prefer that angry words had never been spoken, we would prefer that we got to spend more time with him. And so it is tempting to be sad, for these and so many other things we wish were different.

But i have learned to instead remember to be thankful.

When Grampy was leaving his Army deployment to Korea, the plane he was supposed to return to the States on crashed and all or most of the passengers were killed. i'm sure thankful he wasn't on that plane, he never would have met my grandmother and made my father who made me.

When i was a baby my grandparents were in a highway car accident with a tractor trailer truck that spun their car and left them with the truck coming towards them head on. i'm sure thankful he and my grandmother weren't killed back then, depriving me of all the fun and memories that i do have now.

Grampy won't be there when i am 40, but i am sure thankful that as a 30year old adult i got to have Christmas dinner with my grandfather!

i definitely used angry words at times in my grandfather's presence, but i'm sure glad i told him i loved him. A bunch of times. And he told me. Even the day before he died. And he told my parents he loved them and and my grandmother too, and all of us told him that we loved him too. We are so lucky to have had that opportunity and i am thankful we were all that thoughtful on that and other occasions, several of which we probably don't even remember.

And i am thankful that it happened while i was in Florida, where he lived, so that i could be at the funeral and enjoy the rare opportunity to see all of my father's family and spend time together with them.

For his funeral, my grandmother had to choose a Bible passage to be read and put in the program. "Everybody chooses the the 23rd Psalm," she said, but she wanted to look at other options. (And i'm sure glad she did - that psalm puts the focus of divinity apparently outside of ourselves, and that does not ring true to my own beliefs at all.)

Instead she chose Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, and i think it is a much better choice:

"1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

(Pete Seeger later used an adaptation of these words to make a rock and roll song that i love, most famously performed by The Byrds, check out a great youtube video of it here.)

These words, with what i have learned studying spirituality, do ring as powerfully true to me. Maybe not at first glance though - i would like to think that there is not a time to kill, a time for hate, a time for war, etc. Just like i'd like for my Grampy to not have died. But, teachers from Hindu rishis and Buddhist lamas to Mike Dooley and Neale Donald Walsch have all taught me that things are happening exactly as they are supposed to - and the proof is, that is how the are happening.

There is no use, i am learning, in being sad or in wishing things aren't as they are. It is better, healthier, and more powerful instead to accept things as they are and to find something to be thankful for. We do not always understand WHY things are meant to happen as they do, but these teachers tell me, and i am learning to believe, that everything is always happening for good reason.

Thank you, Gram, for finding a Bible passage that helped me internalize and accept this idea further still:-)

Photos by the author.



  1. Resilience :)


  2. Wisdom, and all that I love about you :)

  3. Ryan, I am so sorry for your loss but admire the strength and wisdom in which you approached your grandfather's passing. I loved the Bible passage you quoted, it's always held a lot of meaning for me.

    ~many blessings

  4. Thank you,love for these very wise and profound words that you are sharing with me in this moment of loss for me and my family. It makes me proud of being able to share part of my life with you and feel exactly the same way now. Thankful. Thankful for all that I have, thankful for being able to see things through and not just superficially,thankful for having you next to me as I learn every day to be a better person and thankful for having had the opportunity to spend 37 years with my grandma, most of which are full of great memories. I feel even greatful for those sad,angry moments I had with her, becouse without those moments I would have not learned so much about myself and my father and would have not being able to improve my relationship with him and with myself.


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