“Yes, learning to laugh at ourselves gives us the spiritual ability to stand before the Lord with our limitations, our mistakes and our sins, but also our successes, and the joy of knowing that he is at our side.”

Pope Francis

This week we were blessed to bring together our Board of Directors and our full-time team from around the country. We’ve added eight great folks in the last few weeks, so it was a wonderful chance to meet people in person and spend time together in prayer, planning, and relationship building.

As part of the festivities, my wife and I welcomed everyone to our home for a little belated 80th birthday party for Tim Flanagan. The team helping to plan the event imagined a wonderful outdoor bash complete with a large tent. The rental company assured us that we could assemble the tent ourselves, claiming that thirteen-year-old kids had done it in the past. While several of us had our meeting with the Board, others descended on my house in 90+ degree weather (and 400% humidity) to help my wife get ready for the party.

As Tricia describes it, she came home from work to find multiple CLI team members drenched in sweat, surrounded by a massive tent strewn across our lawn. There was an emergency run to Home Depot for a sledgehammer and several team members had to change into whatever spare t-shirts my wife could offer them from my closet. After several hours, no tent was up, and as the caterer rolled in, so did a thunderstorm that required all the tables and chairs that were set up to be moved inside. All that remained was a massive tent stake in my lawn (thanks to the sledgehammer), some laundry to do, and lots and lots of laughter. The big tent exercise had proved to be the best team building we could have never planned.

As we stood around the office the next day with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard, I felt so blessed to be a part of this community. I also couldn’t help but think about how in this fast-paced, efficiency- and function-focused world, how little space we leave simply to be in relationship with each other and to have fun. Plato said, "You can learn more about someone in an hour of play, than a lifetime of work." In the midst of the fullness of my life and leadership, do I make space to enjoy those I get to share it with? Even within my work and my pursuit of future plans, do I prioritize looking back and appreciating with others the joy and learnings that came from a difficult experience that may have required blood, sweat, and tears?

As we reviewed CLI’s 30-year history, the team agreed that the "Gift of the Tent" would remain as a milestone over which future generations of CLI employees would marvel. Since Home Depot wouldn’t allow the return of the sledgehammer, it now has a special place in our office to remind us that though our ministry is heavy at times, if we lift it together and laugh a little along the way, we can feel the Lord raising us up together. Prayers for your play this week!

by Daniel Cellucci

August 15, 2022

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