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Christmas / Cross Cultural / Singapore / Time

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 to the head.

So this morning I am 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”.

Singapore movers arrive 8-82But 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.

Festina Lente SM.jpg

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.

Festina Lente by Adnan Alagić, Bojan Kanlić and Amila HrustićFestina Lente by Adnan Alagić, Bojan Kanlić and Amila Hrustić

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

The Author

Imperfect follower of Jesus, wife to the greatest guy in the world, Mom to five wonderful grown children, and happy Nana to their ten littles. Having grown up in the Deep South, I retain a love for all things Southern. I became an amateur cultural anthropologist during a significant time living in SE Asia and still get to travel the world on mission and for fun with my sweetheart. I love asking questions, cooking for my family, helping women breastfeed, walking in the woods, eating biscuits, and having deep conversations about things that matter. On my wishlist are reading more, playing the piano, painting watercolor scenes, figuring out my awesome camera, and writing to soothe my soul.


  1. Allie says

    I love this! I never heard the unpacking story before, or saw the picture. We are also restoring order slowly, slowly. …

    Liked by 1 person

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