Sands of Time

Ryan in Venice

My oldest son, Ryan, just entered his second month of his overseas internship in Italy, apprenticing under three highly skilled master blacksmiths. He spent his first month in a small town south of Bologna with a renowned iron-working artist. Before finishing his Italian adventure in Rome next month, he’ll be staying a couple more weeks in a small town on the eastern side of the country, studying with an architectural blacksmith who is known for his fabricating and casting. While he’s busy at the forge most every weekday, the weekends give him ample time to explore and experience Italy.

So last weekend, I dropped him a text asking what he was doing. He replied: “Sitting on the beach by the Adriatic Sea, contemplating the meaning of existence.” Instead of being funny, he was actually serious and followed this text by asking me if I would like to read what he wrote.

I was astonished by his profound words. In a world of such confusion, Ryan’s clarity of thought was stunning for anyone, let alone one who has lived only 22 years. I asked permission to post his thoughts here. Please feel free to share.


I stood within the waters of the Adriatic and thought… ‘Legends are told of this place.’ A thousand generations of heroes, adventures and dreamers walked these beaches and sailed these waters. Men whose names I will never utter and whose stories I will never know.

Then I knelt down and lifted a handful of the coarse brown sand from the sea bed and watched as it filtered out, carried away by the water. As I watched, I thought, ‘What might these grains be? Perhaps the ruins of a hundred wrecked ships, never to return to port. Maybe the bones of men who died centuries before, their bodies lost to the sea.’

Then I thought ‘what now do we do with this life, this handful of sand amid the rushing waves? Because what is time if not grains moving fluidly through vessels unable to hold them. From dust, we were taken and to dust we will return.

What then must we do? How do we answer the grave question of our mortality? Do we clamp our hands shut, clutching tighter to the time allotted us, only to feel it more keenly as each grain slips away?
Or do we cast it aside declaring that ‘if this is all there is, then I want none of it?
Or perhaps we live for the moment, reveling in the sensation as each valueless grain slips away. For what meaning can a handful of crushed shells have in an ocean and a world so vast?

Then I turned my eyes on that horizon. The same one witnessed by heroes and beggars alike. And I gazed at the ocean, stretching as far as my eye could see.

Then I looked up and remembered that the same hands that hollowed out this sea are the same ones that bled on a cross to give value and redemption to my fist full of broken dreams.

There is blood in my sand, and it gives value to each and every grain.

So how then do I answer my mortality?

By offering my life to the One who first offered it to me.

18 thoughts on “Sands of Time

  1. You must be so proud of him, Karen. As parents, we sometimes forget how blessed our children are and how blessed by our Father we are as well. Your son is gifted it seems in so many ways. May God use the gifts to His glory and may your son always walk in the shadows of His wings.

  2. It is really beautiful especially the way Ryan captures the thoughts in mere words. At times words are not enough to completely encapsulate such hard hitting experiences which transform ones own perspective for the better good. But nevertheless, Ryan did it brilliantly here. Sometimes these small moves of Christ do render me speechless.

  3. How touching and beautiful words only a truly Christian who really loves the Lord can express in that way. What a treasure!

    1. My Heart did almost burst! To see the evidence of Christ being formed in your children is possibly the greatest blessing ever. thanks for stopping by Donna!

  4. Wow, Ryan has his mother’s gift with words!I love this and Ryan’s depth and insight. It is so wonderful that he loves and values his Savior Jesus and is not too caught up in the excitement of travel to think of our creator.

  5. Ah…. The heart of a perceptive and sensitive young artist. They often see depths and truths that many of us are too jaded to see. We need them in these times more than ever. You and your husband have parented well!

  6. Rrrrryyyyaaaaaannn!
    I love this dear soul.
    My heart aches to see all your faces again and I long for this kind of kindred soul searching.
    So incredibly touched by his thoughts
    They don’t bloom at the end of a 22 year old vine
    They spring forth from the depth of the eternal spirit
    An ancient wine in a disposable and recently blown glass bottle…
    As deep calls to deep
    Ryan is revealing the spirit that is ageless
    It warns us of our vanity and it invites us to its sovereignty…
    Very satisfying to commune with you all here albeit masked as cyberspace
    It’s the “4th dimension”
    Let’s meet again here soooon…precious spirits!

    1. Isn’t it wonderful, after all the drama and angst of adolescence, to see a young adult emerge and realize, ‘wow! He”got” it! Look at what the Lord did!’ ? Behind his bluster, he’s actually quite an introspective and thoughtful man of God.

    2. Dawna! Love this! “Ancient wine in a recently blown glass bottle!” Your words are beautiful as well! We are wrong to assume that young people can’t know and experience the Lord just because they have fewer years on this earth. How silly that we would think youth is a barrier to high for our Creator to remove! The boy Samuel comes to mind as an example. vanity indeed! God beckons all his children (whatever their age) to do exactly what He invites us to do… that is, seek and wait for Him to will reveal Himself deeply. You are a blessing beyond measure!

  7. Powerful depth. I wondered where he would go and where he might end. The Blood of Christ is truly the answer.
    Generations ago, my mother’s family emigrated from Italy, I am enthralled with your son’s internship. WOW! I would call it an honor and privilege to intern as he is doing. My Italian family became masons/bricklayers.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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