I first learned of the quote above as a freshman in Nathan Hale Senior High School in Tulsa, OK. I learned it from my cross-country and track coach, Mr. Glen Chowins. He used it to help us understand that in a long-distance running race, going too fast at the beginning made us slow at the end. He was right, of course, but it did not make setting an early pace any easier. It was always tempting to race ahead of the crowd and then try to hang on. It never worked all that well for me! I did better when I set a strong pace and had at least a bit of gas left in the tank for the sprint at the finish. It was good advice and the proof is in the state championship trophy I have from my senior year. We did not have the fastest runners in the state but all of us finished in the top fifteen, and in a team sport that made all the difference.
I have found that the same is true for other areas of life that do not have to do with sports: “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” When in a hurry, I mess up and miss things I would otherwise see. When in a hurry, I am less likely to be able to slow down to be gracious and attentive. I noticed this the other day when trying to merge onto a busy and fast street from a side road. If there were a lot of cars going fast, no one was going to slow down to let me merge, but if the same number of cars were going slow, it took almost no time for someone to slow down enough to let me merge.
At present the diocesan staff is gearing up for next week’s convention and we are all having to be mindful of going slow enough not to get behind! It is tempting to think that faster will do the trick – but I suspect not. Mindfulness, attention, care, love, presence; these are the traits that will get us there best.
In the fall season of the church year there is much to keep us busy so I pray you slow down enough to not get behind.