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Archives With helmet in hand

By Andrew Lauria
Librarian, Seton  Catholic in Plattsburgh

The music is playing loud, the heater is blowing on high, and the air-tools are running at full speed in the background. 

Living out a vocation

While it may be frigid and dim outside, there is no hibernation in here.  This is a real garage.  For me, winter is not a time for rest but rather a time to reassess.  Winter is a time for new ideas on how to make the car go faster.

I am completely and unashamedly a car nut.  Automobiles are my favorite thing that we humans have ever schemed up.  The artistic, scientific, and pragmatic dimensions of the automobile have always left me both excited and amazed.  That and I love to go fast.  But most of all, I love automobiles because they are a part of my vocation.

God creates us for a singular and distinct purpose; to live and share in His great love forever.  Every person ultimately has this same vocation to love.  However, there are many ways to live it out.  We have our “big V” vocations, which include being married or single, a parent, priest or religious.  But within these vocations rest the “small v” vocations.  These things include our interests and hobbies, skills and abilities that do not necessarily determine the pathway of our life, but rather enrich the journey on which God has sent us.  And one of the “small v” vocations in my life sounds exactly like a 1.8 liter, fuel injected, dual over-head cam, inline four cylinder engine revving at 7000 rpm around an auto-cross course.

I realized that cars were part of my “small v” vocation only recently, which seems sort of shocking even to myself since I have been in love with them since before I can remember.  Just ask my parents.  At some points in my life, I have embraced this reality and pursued all-things automotive.  At other points, I have tried to ignore it thinking that it was a distraction to my real vocation in life.  But no matter what I do, cars keep rolling back into my life and I have finally accepted that this is God trying to talk to me. 

And this is how a vocation starts; with our desire to do something.  For me it has always been the desire to be the best driver that I could possibly be and eventually a real race driver.  The fact that cars kept coming back into my life was a sign that I should do something with this desire.

Every time I get behind the wheel of my humble little Mazda at a competition, I feel like I am totally alive and so close to God.  What I did not understand until recently is that this desire to drive can bring joy to other peoples’ lives.  God is using me to reach other people and share with them his great love.  And spreading the peace and joy that God gives me through driving is a positive, if not necessary experience.

When we follow these “small v” vocations, we live in joy and want to give this joy away.  Giving sets us free.  Bringing someone for a ride around the auto-cross course, teaching a new-comer the ropes, or just entertaining some friends at a car show are all ways that I can share God’s love for me with other people.  And they are receiving not a self-made happiness, but rather a God given joy.  Things do not give people joy, but rather God uses things to bring people together to participate in his joy.  And when we give this joy away, we are in turn set free.

Thomas Merton was right when he said “a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy.”

Until now, I never understood how my desire to race could coincide with what God ultimately wanted for me but I am starting to understand.  Once I started moving toward this goal, I realized that God was using me to bring about something that he intended and while I may not know what that ultimate purpose is, I do have a deep peace in my heart from the joy that I get to share with others.  I also hope that his plan eventually includes me winning a competition or two!

Just like the buried flower bulbs that are now so eagerly awaiting the arrival of warmer weather, so too I wait for the warmth to come in order to drive my car for another season. Until the spring arrives, peace comes by knowing that the Son is shining down on me and that soon his work will begin again.

Andrew and his beloved Mazda Miata

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