The 3 Hour Goodbye
In the Sri Lankan culture, saying goodbye is a process. Actually, it is an event. There are several phases to saying goodbye. Often times, it can include another meal or snack after saying the initial goodbye. Other times, it can include making more plans to delay the goodbye even longer. You begin by saying "my goodness we should make a move." - Translation - we should head home. Everyone else will say "What nonsense!" - Translation - you can't go yet, there is plenty of time. Then you slowly make your way out of the living room and into the doorway. The doorway is important, because it possesses the power to absorb time, and transcend the space/time continuum. Here, conversations arise and people linger to the point where your legs start shaking from how long you have actually been standing between the house and the car. You finally get in the car, with a good 20 minutes with the windows down - this usually is filled up with uncles suggesting the best directions home, or food places along the way. The kids will usually make fun of how long they are talking for, and hysteria forms - everyone decides to talk as much as they can realizing the time is closing - even the quiet family members provide their 2 cents here.
The 3 hour goodbye - Have you experienced this? Do you have people in your life that love you enough to say bye for 3 hours? Is there a place you can call home where nothing changes? Your uncle eats his banana every morning. Your aunt makes the same butter cake that no one eats. Your other aunt makes a similar butter cake that everyone eats. Here, the jokes are the same - but the older you get, it is even funnier. Here, people don't care how much money you make or what kind of clothes you wear. Here, you make fun of each other - but it's more endearing than compliments anyone else can give you on your best days. Here, you forget that the world is vying for everything you care for. You forget that once you step out of that door, you have to "fend for yourself." You have to go back to pleasing everyone else with 2nd rate masks, accents, make-up, and gifts. Here, you are loved unconditionally. Here, everyone will tell you if you gained weight, but will feed you no matter how fat you are. Here, everyone will gossip about someone you don't know - but you will know them by the end of the conversation. Here, you don't have to feel shy about asking for random things - like pumpkin pie with tea, or obscure Sri Lankan spices. Here, people will challenge you, but will get mad if you inconvenience yourself in any way. Here, they love you. They love you. And you love them.
I want to be in the presence of people who delay me. I want to delay you. I want to be God's family to those who don't have it. Poverty is most cruel when it comes in the form of loneliness. Poverty is most fierce when it attacks the intangibles - things that can't be fixed via material possession. The poverty of the heart is a disaster. When you don't feel comfortable around anyone in the world, you are navigating very dangerously.
No family is perfect. No 3 hour goodbye is full of 100% joy. No group of people regardless of how well intentioned they are, can display full love. This is reserved for the Creator. But you can become a person who is worth being delayed for. You can become a person that demands 3 hour goodbyes. It is not just a birthright. It is not something that just happens overnight. It is not just with biological families. In fact, most biological families are broken beyond comprehension. The 3 hour goodbye is reserved for you - regardless of culture, religion, or ideology. You have an inheritance that involves this delay - the delay that slows time down - that brings you in touch with your destiny - that allows for mistakes while growing - that allows to want to be great - that beckons you to a calling that is your own, though it will touch the lives of many. The 3 hour goodbye is practice - because the light that shines furthest way, shines brightest at home.
I believe that God gives us His ravens - His angels - at the right time, to give us our bread. And in the end, it is God that matters the most, even though it is human beings that we interacted with. In the end, our 3 Hour Goodbyes are little miracles - to let us know that we are well beyond functional - we will be great. Our delays. Our victories. He never delays.
Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.