Articles From the July 1994 Unification News
Thoughts as My Grandfather Passes On
by Frank LaGrotteria
My grandfather, William A. Dunning, was an avid reader of the Unification News before he passed away. In fact, for at least the past 10 years he had not missed an issue! I was often inspired and comforted to see the Unification News right there with all his reading materials. He often brought up an article now and then discussing some issue or activity of the Church.
Although my grandfather was only an associate member, I often felt that he was one in heart with us. I gained a great deal of encouragement and moral support from him because of that.
This is taken from the eulogy for William Albert Dunning, Dec. 12, 1908-May 2, 1994.
I'm sure in these last few days, as you watched his body slowly slipping away, you reflected on the impermanence or frailty of our physical life.
In recognizing this impermanence, all religions have commented. From the Zen Buddhists, we are instructed to sever all attachments to this physical world-both coarse attachments such as the passions and desires and the more subtle threads of intellectual attachment.
The Taoist sage Chuang Tzu said that life and death are two sides of the same coin and it would be unwise to affirm life and not accept death.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that nobody can step into the same river twice. The river, as a metaphor for life, continually flows along. We need not dwell unnecessarily on the past or the future, but live each and every day as if it were our last.
For the Christian, Jesus best summarized this when he said, according to Matthew 6:28: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you-oh men of little faith."
And in Paul's letter to the Corinthians [ICor15:44] he reminds us: "It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body."
For the Jewish view, it is said in the Bible that all things follow a natural order. In Ecclesiastes 3:2, we read: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing."
Finally, Unificationists believe the essence of life after death lies in the intentions and motives of our hearts. Our eternal life is not something we wait for when we die, but is created here on the earth based on our ability to give and receive True Love within the family, since the family is the very place where the full spectrum of True Love can be found.
Thus on this day we are faced with both the sadness of our own personal loss, and at the same time encouraged by a life well spent. It is truly not how we die that matters but how we live! I can recall with fond memories many chapters in my life that were graced by both my lineal connection with Gramps and my spiritual affinity with him. For I think of him not only as my grandfather, but as my brother and even as my child. I often sat and talked with him of spiritual matters and found in him a kindred heart. Or sometimes we would just have a good laugh.
It was at times like these that I was so deeply reminded of the spiritual reality of life and our position as children of God. Here was this aged man-old and worn by time, much the same as an old, well- worn suit clothes. And yet shining so delightfully through was his fresh and young spirit. I could only remark that Gramps was living proof that life is not only physical, but essentially spiritual. Does this not testify to the reality of spirit?
When news of Gramps' worsened condition spread, some of my friends whom Grampa knew sent their good wishes to him. Dr. James Baughman, whom Gramps had respected very much, wrote him a letter of encouragement. When leaving Seoul just a few hours ago, I happened to meet Dr. Baughman at the airport. He said, "I was so happy I could correspond with him before he departed. It was like wishing my friend well on his imminent journey. I wanted him to know how much I admired him for his courage and for leaving such a fine legacy through his children and grandchildren, and that this would be most important to him where he was going. I told him that we would meet again sometime later, after which he would be able to realize what I was speaking about.
"He is a man to be honored for his steadfast love and commitment to his family and his faith. And I hope his children will continue this tradition of commitment to their marriages and families."
My good friend Robert Kittel, a seminary classmate with whom I have been traveling these past two years, commented that Gramps was bold and strong with good faith. Robert easily recognized the clarity of mind which allowed him to face his inevitable passing without fear.
I think in Gramps' passing we can be reminded of the preciousness of life, the importance of living morally well, and keeping the well- being of others, particularly our family members, close at heart.
In this moment let us celebrate life! Let us celebrate our eternal spiritual life. Let us be comforted by our Heavenly Parent who has cared for us all these years on earth and will surely care for us in the world beyond.
Thus today is a day to reflect on the quality of our lives, repent perhaps, and certainly look forward hopefully. We will surely meet again!
Gramps: I know you are here with us today! Don't ever forget our love and care for you. We all wish you Godspeed. I imagine you have already started drawing the plans for your next project-that is, after you've danced with Granny and told a few stories! Well, make this your best project ever; you have no limitations.
Now you can start your new life in the spirit world, much the same as a newborn baby on the earth. The baby finds its new environment strange and yet exciting, and full of hope and promise. Truly the most memorable experiences in life are the day we are physically born, our wedding day, and the day we physically die. We who are here with you today want to make this a most memorable and noteworthy occasion. We are all very much encouraged by your example of love and service to others and your courage in facing death. Now as this old suit of clothes which was your physical body slowly descends to rest in the earth, let your spirit likewise rise and be with God. For me, Gramps, I will always be your laddy.
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