Pick Up Sticks

“Advent is a time of waiting for our Lord, who will visit us all in our own hearts. The Lord is coming! Let us wait for Him!”

Pope Francis

It is as predictable as a chemical reaction that, when the weather gets colder and the children are inside longer, I tend to yell more. This past Saturday morning, as the temperature dropped, I could feel my blood pressure rise as soon as the house awoke. Squabbling ensued and, despite plenty of square footage, the children all needed to crowd each other’s space in my space.

I decided some outdoor manual labor was just what the doctor ordered. A tree had fallen, and branches were everywhere. I promised the kids a huge fire complete with s’mores that we would fuel with all the sticks we would gather. I gave everyone a very specific role with very specific instructions. The six-year-old could not go within a certain radius of the fire. The twelve-year-old could use the clippers. We would put the sticks in a wheelbarrow, and I would add them to the bonfire in a measured way.

My plan worked for approximately 20 minutes at which point all the children decided it was much more fun to throw their own sticks into the fire. As the dad voice came out and I began to correct each of them specifically for not following my extremely well- thought-out orders, the tweenager sulked and said, “Dad, we’ve got the fire going. We are picking up the sticks. We aren’t fighting with each other. You don’t have to control everything.”

Later on, as I watched them giggle over their s’mores, I thought about the common trap I keep falling into in many aspects of life and leadership – the need to control versus the call to bring order. Whether it’s at work or at home, how often am I overwhelmed by the anxiety of trying to make people respond a certain way or trying to avoid certain circumstances, rather than receiving what the Lord has given me in that moment and seeking to make the best of it, seeking to order it toward His greater glory?

As I enter this Advent season, will I continue to expect my will be done or am I open to the Lord bringing order to my heart? A few hours and many marshmallows later, most of the sticks were in the fire and we had an afternoon full of activity and absent of yelling. As we prepare the way for the Lord, let’s remind each other that we don’t control when or how He comes, just how ready we are to receive Him. May God bless your Advent!

by Daniel Cellucci

November 23, 2022

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