One of my favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes is the one in which Lucy goes to the hospital to have Little Ricky. It’s not my most favorite. That has to be the one about Vitameatavegemin, and I do love the one in the candy factory, but the one I quote most often is titled “Lucy Goes to the Hospital.”
In this episode it is clear that Lucy is very close to having the baby. Fred, Ethel, and Ricky decide to practice their parts for the big event. Each of them has assigned duties to ensure that they get Lucy to the hospital with maximum speed and efficiency. Fred will hail a cab while Ethel calls the doctor and Ricky escorts Lucy safely to the street.
While Lucy rests in the bedroom, Fred, Ethel, and Ricky run through their “it’s time to go to the hospital” scenario. The signal to begin the run-through, timed with a watch, is Ricky announcing with great dignity and importance, “The time has come.” That’s the line I like to quote a lot. The time has come.
The problem is that when Lucy comes out and interrupts their rehearsal with the news that the baby is coming and she needs to get to the hospital, they all panic and rush around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. Lucy is left standing there to figure out how to get to the hospital by herself.
Of course it all works out in the end. Lucy gets to the hospital on time. Little Ricky is born and everyone is happy. It does not, however, go according to plan.
In John 12:23, “Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'” Whenever I read this verse I think about Ricky announcing, “The time has come.” And yes, I envision the disciples running around like headless chickens much as Fred, Ethel, and Ricky did when the time had come.
We try to prepare for things that we know are coming, but often the preparation doesn’t work out the way we think it will. Some things we can’t prepare for. Real life refuses to follow the script we ourselves have written. We find ourselves winging it.
It’s not called the art of improv for nothing. Improvisation really is an art form, but the more we practice winging it, the better we can get at it. The trick, according to Mary Ann McKibben Dana, is to respond to whatever is said or done with, “Yes, and…”
When life surprises us either with what is happening or when or how it is happening, the trick is to respond, “Yes, and…” We need to be ready to react at any moment to whatever happens, especially when the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Plans are good, but be ready to wing it.