Michelle Martin

Timing is everything

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Timing is everything, as the saying goes.

A winter storm blanketing the Chicago area on a Saturday morning, with plenty of time to plow streets and clear sidewalks before rush hour Monday morning? Pretty, isn’t it?

A similar storm dumping another several inches of snow starting in the small hours of Friday morning and continuing through rush hour? Terrible. Maybe the only thing worse would be if the storm struck Friday afternoon.

It’s not just the day of the week, either; the same snow that makes the world seem peaceful and bright if it arrives the week before Christmas — or, perfection, on Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day — is just another difficulty to cope with as February grinds its way toward March.

Liturgically, we’re in the brief patch of ordinary time that falls between Advent and the Christmas season and Lent and the Easter Season. This is not the ordinary time of summer, with long, lazy days, people going on vacation and green vestments that reflect the lawns and gardens around parish buildings.

No, this is the dip in the roller coaster between the first rise and euphoria-inducing drop and the next, larger incline, and the track’s biggest, most exciting fall. Days are getting longer, but it’s still usually dark by dinnertime; it’s the longest stretch of the school year between breaks, especially when Easter comes late; and the snow falls more frequently than it usually does during Christmas.

Timing is everything.

Most of us humans seem to want the world to move along in an orderly way, from snow at Christmas to spring flowers at Easter and swimming outdoors and playing in sprinklers by the time ordinary time rolls around again after Pentecost.

But it doesn’t. Sure, the seasons go round and round in their appointed order, but at least here in Chicago, it can be 60 degrees in January, and 50 in June. Never mind that two days after that 60-degree day in January, it could be hitting zero. While we know spring will come — the promise of the increasing daylight and the approach of Lent, which means “springtime” — we want it to proceed smoothly, and we can be befuddled when things don’t go according to plan.

But the larger plan is still there, springtime and Easter will come, and the long stretch of ordinary time over the summer.

In the meantime, let’s catch our breath, pull on our boots and grab a shovel when it snows and use this time — whatever it’s like — to remember that the plan and the schedule is not, ultimately in our hands. Timing is everything, but it doesn’t always belong to us.


  • family life