I recently had the opportunity to accompany my eldest son on his first and second grade TAG field trip. We convoyed over to the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels, TX. We had a pretty good time as we often do, pretending to be in space, watching the baby crocodiles feast on crickets, building a house, playing in the water, and my son availing himself to the art supplies and painting a 7 year old interpretation of a smiling “Bevo the Longhorn.” We chased and pounded on each other and I don’t think I ever embarrassed him, but he’s a boy so that might be difficult at this stage. Anyway, out in the water courtyard of the museum stands an art car and she’s a beauty of an early seventies VW Beetle.
Now this has an immediate impact on me because my first car was a ’74 Beetle, bright red, which my friends and I affectionately called, “Cherry.” Oh, the times I had in that car. Whether it was skipping school at the beach or taking my favorite girl out for a flick and a feast; or stuffing her (the car) full of kids at summer band (I think we managed fourteen or fifteen one time); that car is intimately tied to my teenage years. We jumped little bridges and skidded around corners. We almost died one day when I took her around a school bus in the fog. A few times the brakes would fail (a perpetual problem based on air in the lines, she was so impulsive). Once she caught fire and once my good friend Alton stuck his feet right through her rusty floorboard in the back seat:
Alton: “STOP! MY FEET ARE ON THE GROUND!”
Angie: “I SEE SPARKS! PULL OVER!”
Once I sank her axle deep in the Witte’s field. My friend Brian fixed her up before our senior year, a new paint job and a new floorboard and a few other things he did. She had a kickin’ stereo system with little green lights on the below-dash equalizer and a great voice. I loved that car and wherever she is today she still carries a lot of memories.
Here’s a pic.That’s my friend Melissa in the picture.
So I bet you’re wondering about the point of this little trip down memory lane.
When I saw the art car at the Children’s Museum, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia and melancholy. I really missed my car; like you miss an old friend. Without getting into that weirdness, let me instead tell you what overcame the sudden sadness. As I looked on the painted up art car it occurred to me that it could be Cherry. I had to sell my poor car and now, potentially, she had fallen on hard times because I didn’t keep her. But had she? Seriously, could I have in any way, been able to keep up the required maintenance on a car that would be 36 years old now? Of course not! It was best to let her move on to another life, and if this is where she ended up, wasn’t that great? I mean Cherry had spent those years with me making me and my friends happy, getting us where we wanted to go, etc. If this were her, highly unlikely in any case, wouldn’t it be great if her last years were spent here, wearing a new coat of paint every month, making kids happy? And now the Divine invaded my thoughts.
How interesting is it that we are so driven by purpose? I recently had some conversations about calling, faith, courage and purpose. Some of these conversations were with Disciples of Christ, some were not, but I gleaned a general consensus that seems to indicate that we long to have something to do that matters, that is transcendent. We long for purpose. The very worst of us strive to move forward in life and work and relationships so that our presence here, on this tilted, wobbly world in a backwater galaxy matters. Most folks I know really wish they could make a difference in people’s lives. Most folks I know want to leave a mark on the world; they just struggle as to know what to do. Well, the answer here is simple and cuts across all lines. Do what you can. When opportunity to do something that makes a difference comes, take the opportunity. Don’t wait. For those of you that are Christians, that means following the Spirit in obedience and living out your calling to the best of your ability. To those of you who are not Christians (yet !) that way lies the path to goodness and faith. In the end we don’t know where we will end up; no one knows the path of a man save God alone. I want to be like that art car one day. When all of my salad days are over and I can’t run a lick, somebody tow me to a place where I can bring children joy while I wait for my final stop.
Let me be an art car.