“Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes."”
My children had the blessing to participate in the Ronald McDonald Camp this past week. Typically offered as a sleepaway camp for children with cancer and their siblings, this year’s experience was full of fun and innovative activities offered virtually by incredible volunteers and nurses. Despite all of the good, there were a few moments when managing multiple kids on different Zooms felt like a throwback to the early "crisis schooling" of the Spring of 2020. One evening, I sat with Peter as he played the game "IncoHEARent," in which the camp counselor would show a series of nonsensical words that when read aloud sounded like a famous phrase. Games with eight-year-olds are not really my scene. Games with eight-year-olds that involve shouting on Zoom as my early bedtime approaches might be Dante’s 9th level of hell. Peter’s small group included children with much more severe limitations, so he was solving the word puzzles the quickest. The counselors were doing an amazing job of patiently engaging each child and Peter was respectfully waiting until he was called upon to offer an answer. After two rounds however, I could feel the tediousness grow for Peter. I couldn’t blame him. As the final round approached, I encouraged Peter that he could offer the answers sooner. As the round started, he patiently waited for other kids to answer. As one girl struggled, I saw him move to take himself off of mute. "Thank God!" I thought quietly in my mind. Peter called the girl’s name and said, "Watch me." He did some silly actions which gave a good clue and made the little girl laugh. She cautiously offered the right answer. To the next boy who was stumped, he said, "Rhymes with sillies!" and the boy guessed "Phillies" with great pride on his face. As the game finished and we signed off the Zoom, I affirmed Peter for his patience even when he knew all the answers. "Oh that’s okay," he said, "It was more fun when we all played together."
As I carried him up to bed, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for my impatience. Whether in life or leadership, how often do I prioritize the value of "playing together" versus the state of my play? What am I willing to endure or provide to others in order to achieve the stated goal AND engage people in the experience? In my faith life, do I prioritize my relationship with the Lord to the detriment of others, or does my pursuit of God encourage me to seek Him in others? Peter and his new friends most likely won’t remember the answers, but they will remember the giggles. Prayers that for whatever "games" we get to play this week, we give thanks and embrace those with whom we get to play them.