Greg Allen: The steppingstones of life are a wonder

Greg Allen

I was invited to a retirement party the other day, my mother's. She decided she'd had enough and hung it up after 31 years of working at the local hospital.

The reception was in the hospital's cafeteria and lasted a little over two hours that day. I sat and watched in amazement as co-workers and friends of hers, past and present, lavished her with cards, flowers and gifts. I drove that day and when we got there several employees were already waiting. To my astonishment the line of well-wishers never ceased the entire time. Everyone, and I mean everyone, gave my mother a hug that day. There were even a few tears shed, including my own, for I had no idea what an impact my mom had made on so many lives.

I didn't say much that day; I was content observing, gathering inspiration.

We all have a story to tell, don't we? No two lives are chiseled the same. There are steppingstones laid out before us all - one must choose. They glisten with shining hope amidst that challenging path meandering along life’s intriguing stream.

We’re all predestined in birth, some sadly snapped short though. When we’re kids there’s a time for play, when a teen a time for dreams, as we get older there’s a time to toil, and as we near the end of the path there’s a time to relax, as Mom has.

I must admit one of my steppingstones is a passion for music. I care for several genres, gospel, pop, country, jazz, rock and most definitely the oldies.

It was in 1965 the American folk rock band The Byrds had a No. 1 hit with the song “Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is A Season)” written by Pete Seeger. Seeger claims to have written just six words for the song, the last line. He rearranged the sequence of the words slightly, but took almost verbatim everything from the book of Ecclesiastes.

The lyrics are as follows:

“To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die.

A time to plant, a time to reap.

A time to kill, a time to heal.

A time to laugh, a time to weep.


A time to build up, a time to break down.

A time to dance, a time to mourn.

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.


A time of love, a time of hate.

A time of war, a time of peace.

A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.


A time to gain, a time to lose.

A time to rend, a time to sow.

A time for love, a time for hate.

A time for peace, I swear it's not too late.”

The master recording of the song took 78 takes to complete. I could say my life’s been a horde of takes, mostly outtakes, steppingstones per se. Those steppingstones have definition, a few could have been viewed as pebbles of insignificance, some were boulders of tragedy, a brittle shale of failure here and there, or a few granite pieces of success mixed in.

Several of my friends have lost their parents recently and although there's a time to die, with the finality of it all, it would seem few of us are prepared for that farewell.

Do take a little time to reflect upon those steppingstones - in your life and others.

Greg Allen’s column is published bi-monthly. He’s a published author, syndicated columnist, songwriter and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Ind., a nonprofit organization aiding the less fortunate. He can be reached at 765-676-5014 or