When in Rome

“The problem is not always an excess of activity, but rather activity undertaken badly, without adequate motivation, without a spirituality which would permeate it and make it pleasurable.”

Pope Francis

When my eldest turned 10, I decided to take her to Rome on a work trip. Without really thinking about the implications, I declared to all the other children that they would likewise get a trip with Dad when they came of age. While the experience with Annie was great, it was eye-opening traveling abroad, without my wife, with a 10-year-old. I thought more than once that perhaps 16 might have been a better age for this adventure.

Fast forward a pandemic and four years later, and number two, Katie, is coming up on her 12th birthday. She hasn’t missed an opportunity to remind me that her turn was overdue. Given our summer, getting ready for school, my tendency for procrastination, and the fact that this was the second go around, I wasn’t as organized in my preparation. Katie’s passport barely arrived in time. I was tracking down a tour guide the week before, and I figured I’d make our itinerary on the long ride over.

The night before we left as I was washing dishes while simultaneously trying to resolve an issue with Katie’s boarding pass with an unhelpful airline agent on the phone, my daughter came in to ask me a question, and I snapped, "Katie, I don’t have time for that right now." My wife brought in the rest of the dishes and gave me a knowing look. "You know what her older sister told her when Katie asked what she liked the best about Rome?" Tricia asked me. "Simply getting time with just Dad."

As we crammed into our economy seats for the overnight flight, I encouraged Katie to lift the arm rest and just sleep on me. While it was the least I’ve slept on that flight in recent memory, I realized it was the longest I’ve held my now almost teenage daughter in many, many years. How often am I stressing about the details, but missing the main event? In how many moments in life and leadership am I trying to arrange the future when what people really want is to engage in the present? With our Lord, how many times do I need to be reminded that what I do or get done is never as important as who I am and who I try to be for Him?

As Katie recounted the stories her sister Annie told her of Rome, hardly any of the memories were of the tourist sites I was frantically trying to sequence. They were of times we laughed really hard, got really lost, and discovered things we weren’t trying to find. I decided (without telling Katie) that the thing we’d try to do the most on our short trip was walk arm and arm like so many Italians do. Prayers for your walk this week and for those with whom you are blessed to share it.

by Daniel Cellucci

Sep 06, 2022

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