Timing is Everything

Armodoxy for Today: Timing is Everything

A few years back, as we rounded the corner on the last leg of a 39-mile walk, we saw the finish line glistening like an oasis, waiting in anticipation of our arrival, with cool water and a row of electric foot massagers and chairs. We walked through the streets, hills and coastal area of Santa Barbara for two days while participating in the 39-mile walk to end breast cancer sponsored by Avon. My sister is a survivor and while throughout my ministry as a priest I have shared prayers and hugs with several cancer patients and their families, when cancer hits close to home the finality of life – time – hits you in a different manner. You remember childhood experiences, travel down the timeline of life, and realize that the line does end at some point.

We organized a small group of walkers from our church under the name “In Her Shoes” and set off to join those making a difference in the fight against this ugly killer. We walked 26 miles on day one and 13 miles the next day to the finish line, where an assortment of “help” awaited, from water, music and family members who made sure we saw that a car was waiting to take us back home.

The experience is a memorable one and spiritually uplifting. Avon did a nice job of organizing the walk, with attention paid to detail. Over four hundred of us walked the route. Although there are so many moments that make the experience magical and memorable, it was on that last stretch that I heard the theory of time relativity in a manner I can’t forget.

The end was a half a block away, and volunteers were passing out flyers to the walkers inviting us to next year’s walk. A lady next to me took the flyer, looked at it and confessed, “This is just like childbirth. During the excruciating pain of labor, every woman swears they will never do this again! But after the baby has come, after a few weeks, or months, the possibility of another baby becomes more and more doable.”

Timing is everything, they say. Whether having another baby or stretching the limits of your physical abilities, the decision to do so depends on timing. We ended up walking in several of these annual walks raising millions of dollars for cancer research. And then, in 2018, Avon ended the program.

In Scripture, there are a popular set of verses that are quoted at events marked by time. From Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, we are told, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” While Hallmark has made its profit off these verses, people with ill intentions have used these phrases to justify wars and senseless acts of killing. A prophet does not predict the future, rather he or she speaks to the times.

Today, we meditate upon these verses. Listen carefully to what is being said. These words are merely an observation of our reality, they are not meant as a permission to hurt, kill or destroy. This then is a reading of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses observing the reality around us.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

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