I am finding it interesting how often now I see people signing off from a message not simply with their love, good wishes or regards, but with ‘stay safe’.
We have been used to threats to our safety coming in the form of violence, whether by aggression or accident, that attacks us. So our thought for others is that they will be as careful as possible to avoid injury and stay safe from harm. We try ourselves to minimise risk by avoiding areas known for trouble, by driving carefully, by looking both ways before crossing the road, by using the appropriate safety equipment for any activity. This is commonplace in our lives.
The ending of a message may become formulaic, words we have been taught that are correct and polite to put at the end of a letter, or in finishing a conversation. I always find it odd and a little untrue that phone calls in films and on television don’t end with good wishes and proper goodbyes, they just stop.
I try to choose these words for ending carefully. I do want to be polite in a general way, but I also want to try to be genuine with that person, so that I am expressing my hope for them.
I think that is what we are doing currently when we write or say, ‘stay safe’. We are giving voice to our hope, that this person will continue to experience safety from harm.
May our hopes be not a matter of form or politeness. May our hopes be also our prayers.