Do Whatever He Tells You

 “I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I have been reflecting a lot on timing.
When is there a right time in life for doing and or being ?

For we do often hold a guiding fiction that there are right things to be done at the right time, in the right place . We have a notional belief that there is a right combination of acts and thoughts for specific circumstances. 

Yet maybe there is no such thing as a better time or a worse time.

Is timing really everything, or do I stake my faith in the maxim that the unexpected often happens and there are those who live their lives to a different beat of time, not a normal linear one, but one that I glimpse of sometimes, and always am grateful for ; moments of a more complex richness and appreciation of time that come through slowing down the incessant internal analytical dialogue of oppositional thought.

I am familiar with the pesky sirens of reflexive doubt that can insinuate into the recesses of mind and recycle themselves frequently even on a moment to moment basis.

 “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
C.S. Lewis

  “Aside from velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can't see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of seventy-five dollars per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything.”
Dave Barry

 “There are so many kinds of time. The time by which we measure our lives. Months and years. Or the big time, the time that raises mountains and makes stars. Or all the things that happen between one heartbeat and the next. Its hard to live in all those kinds of times. Easy to forget that you live in all of them.”
Robert Charles Wilson, Spin

 “The years teach much the days never know.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

This coming Sunday's Gospel is rich in matters of timing for Christ who performs his first public miracle of changing water into wine at Cana.

 He has been baptized by St.John the Baptist, has completed a rigorous and demanding 40 days of prayer in the wilderness, so an invitation to party at a wedding feast in Cana, must have been especially welcome.
In those days, wedding receptions could last a whole week. 

Image by Marko Rubnik- Source

Image source

Marriage at Cana by Giotto, 14th century

Marriage at Cana by Giusto de' Menabuoi .Source

But the wine supply runs out during the festivities, so Mary brings it to the attention of Jesus by telling Him, "They have no more wine." Was it nothing more than an absent minded request for help, or an indirect prompting from her that asked for something much more dramatic? Did her words carry an expectation of action from her son?

Was there a hidden unspoken expectation for Him to perform some sort of dramatic miracle ?

Image source

It's interesting to see that Jesus had a sense of His own timing in His apparent rebuff to Mary in His reply  What is that to do with you, or me, woman, my hour is not yet come,”inferring to her that He was running on a different clock.
Mary's simple instruction to the servants "Do whatever he tells you," certainly carries a weight and a sense of something good to come, an echo too of the immense power of her own faith and belief.

 But when I read these words the echo I hear in my own ears, is not a reminder of my faithfulness in obedience to God's will but sadly more of a reproach to my lack of trust. More often my life is lived out in wrangling over so many eternal internal dilemmas and questions; when hopes are dashed and the temptation is to give up when external events tend to overwhelm or threaten me.

It's intriguing that the Gospel relates that Jesus didn't ask the servants to fill the empty wine skins with water, but instead chose the stone jars usually used for holding water. 

Maybe it was this miracle that St Paul alluded to much later in his writings ; "that treasure in jars of clay to show us that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Mary's gentle and encouraging words to stay put and rely on God's grace which is enough, and yes, even more than enough to celebrate, are pointers to where my thoughts and prayers should lead me this week.

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.

         John O’Donohue (from “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Invocations and Blessings”)

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