My house looks like a big party went down, the blessing of lots of family members willing to come and stay awhile. But all good things do come to an end, and this is it. And someone gets to put things to rights, and that is mostly me.
This morning, the first morning after everyone has left, there is tired Christmas deco, some of it just barely hanging on, fragrant pine needles that seem to have sifted everywhere, and balls of tissue and paper still lurking in corners. The 8 children and 7 extra adults that have spent most of the week here have also meant lots of food prep and eating, there are dishes and food crumbs galore. I feel like I would like to stop cooking and doing dishes for about a month. My husband playfully asked me before we went to bed last night, “What’s for breakfast?” He got a pillow thrown at his head.
So this morning I thinking of Aminah, my Malay amah (helper) in Singapore some years back, a wise woman in all ways. The summer we moved there with our 2, 4 and 6 year old children, our container arrived from the States about 8 weeks after we did. (How we survived the 8 weeks is another story.) The movers said they had to unpack everything themselves in order for any breakage to be covered by insurance. So all the contents of all the boxes: toys, dishes, kitchen stuff, clothes, books, bedding, everything we guessed we might need in our new life on the other side of the planet (and actually far more than we did need) was spread over every surface in my equatorial house. Even the mosquitoes and cicaks (geckos) were a bit intimidated. I actually wept it was so overwhelming. And amazingly, today I found this picture I took of one of the rooms. Four year old Allison was “helping”.
But Aminah patted my shoulder. “Slowly, slowly,” she said. And then she began to help bring order, slowly, slowly. It took days, but we did it. And I always think of this simple advice, free of frustration, to proceed slowly, slowly, and at some point it will be done.
I gave my youngest son a print for Christmas by the artist Ruth Chou Simons of the Latin motto “Festina Lente”, make haste slowly. This classical adage has been used through the years by people as diverse as Roman emperors to Shakespeare. It is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, which I love the idea of because I think we are such contradictory creatures. As you hurry, slow down.
Architectural students in Sarajevo, Bosnia have built an intriguing structure in front of the Academy of Fine Arts that they call the Festina Lente Bridge. The looped gateway from one direction to another across the bridge provides a pause in the journey.
Today and always, I want to move through my life slowly, slowly. I don’t want to rush, to miss things, to miss my own life because I am in such a hurry to accomplish, finish, move on to something else. I want to pursue peace. And this, the last day of 2015, seems like a good time to think on these things.
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11