festina lente


I have only owned one home with a name.  My home in New Hampshire (c. 1847) is called “Blackwater Bluff.”  My home growing up was called “Dove Haven” and the american family home was called Mattaponi (also the John Bowie Jr. House) and was where my family lived during world war one.

If I were ever to name another home it would be “Festina Lente” – a classical term adopted by many families and meaning “make haste, slowly.”

As I live into the second half of life I am studying Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward” as I try to understand what these latter years of life mean and how and why they feel so very different.  I will teach a class on living this second half of life on Wednesday nights September 30, October 7 and October 14.  What I am learning is that we make has rather more slowly.  The many “no’s” we speak before 50, become “yes’s” as we grow older.  We lighten up on grabbing at things and people and careers, exchanging that voracious grabbing with a slower, soft holding and then letting go.  And this letting go is a wonderful thing.  It trains us for death.  But along the way it speeds up our patience while slowing down our grabbing.

The great french poet put is well:

Slowly make haste, of labor not afraid;
A hundred times consider what you’ve said;
Polish, repolish, every color lay,
And sometimes add, but oftener take away

Nicholas Boileau, Art Poétique

(Charles Dudley Warner (ed.), A Library of the World’s Best Literature, Vol. V, New York: The International Society, 1896, reprint 2008 by Cosmo Classics, p. 2144. The translator originally chose “Gently make haste”, here turned back to “Slowly make haste”, which is more faithful to the French “lentement”.)

What would it mean for you and me to let go of the things we so tightly hold?  What would going slowly in life look like?  As I age, I want to make haste to slow down.  If I ever have another home, it will be called Festina Lente.  Or, someone can carve it on my headstone.

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