Timing is everything. Having been inconsistent in my resolve to cook dinner for my husband and me, I decided one morning recently to prepare a couple of meals ahead. Putting a roast and potatoes in the crock pot was easy, but the new chicken curry dish turned out to be a bear. An endless number of steps, each one requiring at least 15 minutes worth of stirring, was involved. This was in addition to chopping time, food processing time, and a ridiculously long search for seldom-used spices on my jumbled-up spice rack. I searched, chopped, and stirred. The clock ticked away. A luncheon commitment loomed. Would I make it? Yes, I did, but by the hardest. Later, I decided that I must have felt something of what Aaron Murray felt Saturday afternoon, down there on the Alabama five yard line with 5 seconds to go and a football that needed a little more time to make it over the goal line. Time will have its way.
Unless you have been vacationing on a desert island in a faraway ocean, you are probably feeling a bit of time pressure yourself this December. For those of us who celebrate Christmas, December 25th is coming upon us at break neck speed. We have fewer than three weeks to shop, wrap, bake, decorate, entertain, assemble bicycles, address cards, hang the mistletoe, sit on Santa's lap, and stuff the turkey. Time will have its way.
Our nation is under another kind of time pressure, involving the very real possibility of an epic fall off "the fiscal cliff." Only 26 days separate us from that potentially enormous economic disaster. I think of words attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte as he sent a young lieutenant out on an urgent mission: "Go sir, gallop. . .," he said. "You can ask me for anything you like, except time." There are many occasions which require patience and quiet anticipation. The Christian season of Advent comes to mind. But there are historical moments in which time is of the essence, and immediate action is required. I believe that this is just such a time in America. Congress and the White House must act now. There is simply no excuse for their not finding the way forward before millions of Americans suffer the serious consequences of a noxious partisan stand-off. The clock is running.
In his unforgettable "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now." Now is the time for justice and equality. He was right. America has never been the same.
In my religious tradition, there is a beautiful story. The Apostle Paul, incarcerated in Rome near the end of his life, wrote to a young associate named Timothy, hundreds of miles away in Ephesus. Paul urged Timothy to visit him for a final farewell. "Come before winter," he wrote. Paul knew not only that his life would soon come to an end but also that the harsh winter weather on the Adriatic Sea would have made sailing impossible.
Did Timothy sense the urgency of now and make the trip? Who can say? What we can say is that there is no time like the present for life's most important things. We do not ever want to be caught saying, "I'll do it later" and then find out that later is too late.