“We just cannot worry about ourselves.”

– Pope Francis

I am grateful to have graduated from the days of hoisting wagons of beach accoutrements over what felt like the Sahara Desert, all while simultaneously trying to get toddlers over the same obstacle without too much screaming. This year at the beach, the youngest could carry her own bucket and even a little chair that was just her size. However, there was still “stuff” that needed to be carried - a cooler, two umbrellas, extra towels, etc. While I’m grateful to be free of the wagon, the loose collection of artifacts now presents different challenges (as does my 41-year-old back and knees). “But Dan! You have teenagers!” you say. “They must certainly be helpful!” Alas, while I have very good and helpful daughters, I have googled enough parenting advice to know that the frontal lobe of the teenage brain primarily acts to remind the teenager that they are the center of the universe.

After days of taking their younger two siblings to the beach, schlepping all the stuff, and watching the teens arrive 30-45 minutes later with little backpacks and their own chairs, I remarked in frustration that they might think about leaving on our timeline so they could help with all the stuff. “Dad, isn’t it enough that we take care of ourselves?” claimed one daughter. “Yeah,” said the other, feeling emboldened by her sister, “aren’t you just happy we are self-sufficient?”

This triggered a classic - and typically unhelpful - Dan Cellucci “cross-examination,” reminding them of the car that drove them to the beach, the food that was purchased, the roof over their heads, and so on. Finally, my wiser wife leaned in and offered a more helpful thought, “Self-sufficiency isn’t enough when you’re a family.”

As I cooled myself down by standing in the ocean surf, I thought about how often in life and leadership I pride myself on my strong individual contribution while simultaneously resenting having to wait on others or carry that which is not mine or what I don’t think I will use. How often do I see independence versus interdependence as the goal? As I mature in age and faith, do I find my worth in simply what I can carry myself or how I can help others carry more than any one person could imagine?

Self-sufficiency isn’t enough for a family on the beach, nor is it the goal for a family of faith. As we seek to strengthen our Church, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to remind us of the collective potential we have been given to carry others in this world to the Good News of Christ. Prayers for whatever you’re carrying this week!

by Daniel Cellucci

July 10, 2023

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