In prayer this morning, seeking silence, I instead became acutely aware of the ticking of a clock in the next room. And so, my mind easily wandered to matters of time and the passage of time.
September 20th will be the fortieth anniversary of the death of singer/songwriter Jim Croce, who was killed in the crash of a small plane in Louisiana just an hour or so after a concert performance.
I still remember learning of his passing from my cousin, Michael. He and I were both fans of Croce’s narrative songs like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”
Probably, I was drawn to those songs for the same reason that I watched professional wrestling as a child. A scrawny teenage boy living in a world with more than its share of bullies is easily attracted to stories of bad guys getting their comeuppance.
Killer Kowalski may prevail for a time, but eventually Bruno Sammartino would make him pay for his nefarious ways. And the same was true of Leroy Brown in his clash with the jealous husband.
Cartoon justice, though, is not my lasting impression of Jim Croce’s work. Instead, I am anguished by the irony that a man who sang about saving “Time in a Bottle” would have his life end so tragically, so abruptly. The brevity of his own life makes his theme of saving time all the more poignant.
Growing older brings many reminders of life’s fragility… and of the inestimable value of time.
“If I could save time in a bottle…”
Tick – tick – tick!