Today is Be Late For Something Day. That was the announcement on my calendar on 5th September. Sadly I only discovered that fascinating fact when I tore several dates off my calendar nearly a month later.
Anyway. Be Late for Something Day
was founded by the Procrastinators’ Club of America. I’m surprised they came up with it really – would have thought they would have put off the decision until another day.
No really. There is actually a day called Be Late For Something Day. And in fact I was going to write a blog about Be Late For Something Day back in October. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of my ironymeter exploding again.
I spend most of my time being governed by not being late. Deadlines dictate my life, from weekday ones like the 0714 train from the West Country to London, to significant ones like the final date for submitting lists of staff for exhibitions, and to smaller but just as important ones like the 11.30am Saturday posting deadline at my local post office.
It would be great to tell you just how good I am at being ahead of time. How good I am at meeting deadlines, never missing trains, never asking for an extension so I can get one final submission in. It would be a lie. A big fat lie. Putting off until tomorrow or even the day after is something that comes far more naturally. I work better under pressure – or so I keep telling myself.
Earlier this year I went on a course which discovered my working practice was Hurry Up – which probably was fairly obvious to the person running the course as I was the first to finish the questionnaire it was based on. Hurry Ups are the type of people who race through enormous To Do lists with only minutes to spare, and thrive on it.
Sometimes the deadlines are enforced and squeezed through events that are not our fault. I went to Zimbabwe for nearly a fortnight and am now running a new series of special days called Catch Up for Christmas. At the rate I’m going, I might be ready by Boxing Day. That’s Boxing Day, 2014.
We spend our lives rushing about, trying to squeeze quarts into pint pots, afraid to let any minute be wasted when We Could Be Doing Something. And quite often frustrated and angry when a lack of internet connection, a missed train, someone else arriving late for an appointment means we can’t do that Important Something That Needs To Be Done. We don’t want to be late for things and neither do we want to spend time waiting. Fast food, fast technology, everything in an instant – that’s Life in the 21st Century.
What a contrast then to Advent. The period of creative waiting. I love baking cakes and this year for the first time ever made a Stollen. Stollen needs yeast in it which means there’s a period of time when it has to be left to prove and double in size. During that time there’s nothing I can do to hurry things up – the process takes a definite period of time but in the end it IS worth waiting for.
Advent is also a time of waiting. Waiting for the promise. Waiting for the hope to be fulfilled. If you look back to the original promises made to people like the prophet Isaiah, in which those in exile were told God would save them, it’s amazing to realise that between those promises and the arrival of a baby boy in Bethlehem a period of about four hundred years passed by. What sustained those exiles waiting for the promise? Did they plead with God to hurry up? Were they angry that it felt like he was carrying out his own special Be Late for Something Day?
Well, the truth is, that God acts in God’s time and in God’s way. His timing isn’t ours, but it’s always spot on. At the right moment all the major players were brought together in the right place. A man called Joseph who risked his reputation to marry a young girl pregnant – and not by him. The young woman who had her life turned upside down when a visitor told her she’d been chosen by God for a special task. A group of stargazers who spent months travelling to find out the source of the star that mysteriously appeared. A group of shepherds passing the time on a hillside, bored, cold and probably outcasts. An old man in a temple who’d been promised he would see God’s special one in his lifetime.
Always God’s timing and always spot on. This period of Advent inexorably bringing us into Christmas cannot be hurried as God works to his deadline and his plan, often calling us to be his hands and heart in a world that needs all the light shining in the darkness that it can get.
Some things are worth waiting for. Especially when they are to the right people and in the right place. And delivered by someone who never ever has a Be Late For Something Day.