“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
~ St. Pope John Paul II
We are blessed to have our older two in an excellent Catholic school. So when an urgent plea from the school office came out for some extra help monitoring the recess yard, I checked my calendar and signed up for one day I knew I would be in town. The day before, I emailed our school’s administrative assistant to ask if there was anything I should know. The email back read, “Just keep your head down and don’t believe anything the children say. Thank you!” Any quaint images of may poles and hopscotch were vanquished immediately when the door flung open. I quickly had to double check that it wasn’t 1998 and I wasn’t an extra in the filming of “Saving Private Ryan.” Kickballs inadvertently striking me from all sides, children falling in mud puddles that seemed to miraculously appear. It was the longest 25 minutes of my life. Despite my best efforts to focus on the most likely problematic zones of the school yard, it seemed that the causalities always happened within the 12-foot radius surrounding me. Sensing my panic, my much more experienced co-monitor, came up and counseled me, “just pick a spot, stay still, and solve the problems that come to you.”
As I dabbed the sweat from my brow, I wondered how often I go looking for trouble and miss the opportunities to troubleshoot around me? Even in Scripture, we see Jesus spent most of his time pouring into his closest collaborators. We might be called to go to the peripheries, but perhaps the edge of our comfort is closer than we think. One thing I am sure of is that navigating the leadership dynamics around me is definitely easier than navigating kickball.