Slow Down Good-Bye
I was thinking...
A recent Corona beer advertising slogan caught my eye, “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how well you slow down that makes the difference!” Perhaps that spoke to me because all too often life encourages us to be in a hurry…to rush…to ‘get er’ done quickly. Most of the mistakes I have made (and I’ve made more than my share of mistakes) happen when I’m in too big of a hurry with something. “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how well you slow down that makes the difference!”
Saying ‘good-bye’ can be such a difficult thing to do. We really must slow down to do it well. We United Methodists are quite familiar with good-byes. Our itinerant system is filled with opportunities for churches and clergy to say good-bye to each other. I recall our middle son, Chris, struggling to say good-bye as we were appointed to a new appointment. We had served our departing appointment for 9 years…needless to say, saying good-bye was difficult for all of us, but for Chris it was the first time in his life he was caused to make relationship adjustments through a good-bye moment. After worship that last Sunday, there sat Chris in my office, behind my desk, with tears rolling down his cheeks saying to his mother and me, “Y’all can move to another place, but I’m not going anywhere!” Chris was 10 years old. Good-byes can be very hard. We must slow down to do them well.
Every good-bye is not equal. Offering a good-bye for a trip to the grocery store is not the same as a good-bye to a marriage through a divorce. Offering a good-bye to a grandchild leaving a visit at the grandparents’ house is not equal to a final good-bye to a grandparent in death. However, regardless of a particular good-bye moment, it is important to slow down to do them well.
My wife Sharon’s family is one of the most good-bye challenged families I’ve ever known. Saying good-bye in their family is an often tearful, hugging, procrastination event. It is just how they are. Good-byes after any type of visit among family is an EXPERIENCE! Their love language is emotional good-byes! I used to think it was a miserable thing for Sharon to return home with me and our children after a visit with her family. But then I realized that they were extraordinarily gifted at slowing down to say good-bye (At least I hope that was/is the case. I’m adjusting.)
The Gospel writer Mark records Jesus offering a good-bye as well. After Jesus feeds the multitude of people with only five loaves and two fish, he instructs his disciples to get into a boat on the Sea of Galilee and sail toward Bethsaida. Mark writes, “After saying good-bye to them, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:46, CEB) Remember, it is not how fast we go, but how well we slow down that makes the difference! Jesus slows down and the next experience is him coming to his disciples by walking on water. It was in his slowing down that he became made ready to enter the boat with the disciples…even before it made it to shore. Slowing down to say good-bye made it possible for a new miracle greeting.
Whether we are connoisseurs of beer or not, Corona has it correct: “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how well you slow down that makes the difference!” Let’s slow down, not rush, savor life…good-byes and hellos. Behind a good-bye there might just be a miracle greeting.
The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop