Isaiah Jones, a black gospel musician and preacher who was raised in East St. Louis, somehow showed up here in our Northwest college town in the mid-1990’s. He started a gospel choir which was 99% white. And therefore remedial. It took us about two years to figure out how to sway together to the rhythm, which still resided way more in our heads than our bones. Isaiah was our director, accompanist, and a frequent soloist. When the Spirit moved him, which was wildly unpredictable to us, he would jump up and prance into the audience to give Love Hugs. Even though he was an ordained Presbyterian minister, this particular habit was a bit suspect at first. But the good liberal church people would never want to offend the town’s one black minister, so at first they played along. Later, they began love-huggin’ each other on their own.
He was that kind of infectious.
A friend tells a story about Isaiah. He had come to dinner at her place, everyone had pushed their chairs back after the meal, and a peaceful lull suffused the room. She went to the kitchen and came back with an apple pie.
“That pie is right on time,” Isaiah drawled.
With Isaiah, the pie would have been right on time, no matter when it arrived. He lived in a Right on Time World. He even answered his phone, “God is SO good. ALL the time.” It meant things were just as they should be. No rush. Miracles like apple pie could show up any time, and so would spring, babies, and other natural wonders. But if the world was always right on time, if the way of things was always good, I began to notice, other life events would need to be re-considered.
I started to apply the mental state of Right On Time to disasters in my life: a friend’s accidental drowning, a house fire that nearly killed my son. In the increased focus that can occur during such events, no doubt with ample amounts of adrenaline and Grace, it’s a challenge to find the goodness. I began to keep a list of how these tragedies could possibly be right on time, if not good. Then I looked for evidence of possible goodness in all the fear and pain. Gradually the list grew. How did I know who was being helped or inspired by the community of love and support that sprung up around us? Who learned about the dangers of fly fishing without a belt? Who checked for a smoke alarm in their apartment? The possibilities just kept unfolding.
I also noticed that when one’s world has been turned upside down, all one can do is operate Right on Time. One decision. This one. Then the next. Otherwise it would be too much. I began to notice that taking each step right on time built a substrata on which I could walk. It created a foundation for coping.
Looking for proof of a world that runs right on time brings me back to my own experience. I ask, “what’s showing up right on time in my life?” and a montage of images clicks through my brain. The snow on the fir tree, the rivers filling up once again during the spring thaw. The faces of my loved ones in candle light after a good meal, with or without apple pie.
When I notice gratefulness and appreciation for whatever’s showing up, when I remember everything is Right On Time, I move into a state of Grace. It seems impossible to believe that I thought only a few minutes before that I needed to do more than what was required of me in that moment.
When I remember that life is Right on Time, my body relaxes. The burden of strategizing and over-thinking is lifted. I notice I breathe. Right on time. I move. Right on time. I have the direction I need. Right on time. I have peace. Right on time.