Word fun – Make Haste Slowly Right Now!

Latin can be fun. Take the phrase festina lente, literally meaning make haste slowly.

Doing things slowly is my specialty. Unless it’s when I’m pulling onto the freeway, in which case I really want the person ahead of me to use the on-ramp to speed up and accelerate to freeway speed.

Dallas, Texas (Wikimedia)

Dallas, Texas (Wikimedia)

Funny, but apparently not every driver on the road sees on-ramps the same way. Perhaps they festina lente no matter what the situation, even when pulling into traffic consisting of several dozen 18-wheelers all barreling along at well over the posted speed limit.

Now that I think about it, I tend to want others not to festina lente, but just to festina if whatever they are doing is getting in the way of whatever I am doing. Earlier this week I was at Costco and the shopper a couple people ahead of me in line was taking more time than usual paying for his items. I craned my neck around the intervening shoppers and saw the man with a small booklet of some sort, and he was scribbling in it with a pen.

“Now why on earth is anyone taking notes in the Costco checkout line?” I wondered. “Can’t he pay for his stuff, move along, and do his writing elsewhere?”

Thomas Jefferson wrote himself a check for $50. (Wikimedia) He couldn't write it to Costco because Costco wasn't around in 1809.

Thomas Jefferson wrote himself a check for $50. (Wikimedia) He couldn’t write it to Costco because Costco wasn’t around in 1809.

As I stared, it became clear he wasn’t taking notes. He was writing a check. The little notebook was really a checkbook. He was at Costco writing a check. While I waited!

(Now for those of you who are too young to remember checkbooks, they are what people used before credit cards and debit cards. And for those who have no idea what those are, they are what people used before bitcoin.)

So freeway on-ramps and Costco lines, those are two places where festina lente in others doesn’t work for me. Which, now that I think about it, probably means that just about anywhere there’s a line – and I’m not the first person in it, of course – then I would rather people not lente their festina one bit.

It’s all a matter of context, right?

Bible Festina and Bible Lente

The Bible speaks of haste as both good and bad, depending on the context.

Good: “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” (Psalm 119:60.)

Bad: “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Proverbs 29:20.)

The Bible also speaks of slowness as being good and bad.

Good: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9.)

Bad: “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.” (Deuteronomy 23:21.)

And here’s a passage that counsels both haste and slowness at the same time:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20.)

So I’ll try to festina lente for Jesus and the people he’s put in my life.

Even if it’s in a checkout line or on the freeway.

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19 Responses to Word fun – Make Haste Slowly Right Now!

  1. Laura says:

    Good point on being patient with people. I too want them to festina!! We have similar pet peeves Tim: checks and on-ramps! Around here paying by check still seems VERY common. Seriously! A check? So slow and antiquated. I don’t get why anyone would still want to use checks to pay for stuff at store, when there are other methods so much easier and quick.

    • Tim says:

      I like to think it’s because some people still like the feel of paper and ripping the check out of the book and handing it to the cashier. It may be though that these people are mere Luddites, but that too earns my respect!

  2. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for introducing me to this great phrase, Tim! “Make haste slowly” sounds like a great way to live. In fact, there’s a certain 11-year-old in my family for whom that seems to be a modus operandi. Now I’m off to the store: Veni, vidi, visa.

  3. I love your fun short posts 🙂 If you don’t like drivers “festina lente”-ing in CA, you would NOT like drivers in VA. I frequently find myself behind people going 25mph to merge onto the freeway. And no, I’m not exaggerating. (There are reasons we have one of the highest car accident rates in the country…)

    • Tim says:

      25? You mean as in 40-mph-below-the-speed-limit 25?! Aauuugh!

      Ahem … I am now calming down. Calm, calm, caaaaaalllmmmm.


      • I know. When we list off the reasons we want to leave this state as soon as possible, Nic always adds, “And Virginia drivers.”
        If we’re talking to a native Virginian, they look at us funny, chuckle, and shake their heads. If they’re not a native, they nod their heads soberly and say, “I know.”

    • Laura says:

      Here too (South Carolina) Elizabeth. People go slower and slower as they get to the end of the on-ramp!! So maddening. I’ve even seen them come to a complete stop!! I don’t ever remember this happening back in NY state where I am originally from. Thanks for letting us vent today Tim. Hope we have not missed the real point of your post. : )

      • Tim says:

        Stopping at the end of the on-ramp? Hmm, is it Opposite Day or something?

        • Opposite Day indeed! Growing up in Southern California, you either drove with the flow — i.e.: speed UP on the on-ramp — or got mashed by an 18-wheeler.

        • Tim says:

          Unless you’re getting on the 405. Then you have to slow down considerably to match freeway speed.

        • Well, there is that. I lived in the foothills along the 210 and managed to keep my life and travels up in the foothills away from the freeways that got so heavily trafficked. I actually remember the 210 freeway opening. My mom brought two of my siblings and me right from swim lessons to the grand opening ceremony. Kinda funny to see kids in swimsuits in the newspaper photo.

          Um… sorry about the rabbit trail. SQUIRREL!

  4. Pastor Bob says:

    Costco does not accept credit cards except American Express. Debit cards are welcome, but the fees can be ridiculous. I use the check.

    Sign in my shop for years:
    “If you cannot find the time to do it right,
    where will you find the time to do it again?”

    My personal take: ‘If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.’

    Blessings to all (and quote freely form the above!)

    • Tim says:

      True, no credit cards unless you have American Express.

      You knew my take on the Costco thing was self-criticism and not really criticizing the man in front, right?

  5. joepote01 says:

    I’ve learned an adage in the horsemanship world, “Act like you’ve got all day, it takes ten minutes. Act like you’ve got ten minutes, it takes all day.”

    It really does seem to be true of horses. If the human acts bothered and hurried, the horse is likely to be skittish and flighty. If the human acts calm and undisturbed, the horse is likely to also act calmly.

    I think the same philosophy often carries over to human interactions. I like the idea of “make haste slowly”!

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