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Three steps forward, two steps back


The day started at 5:00 AM. With the bags packed, the support truck came to pick me up. By 6:00 AM the entire driving team had been collected and we were off to grab coffee and collect our cars prior to today’s stages.

There was so much expectation after winning our class two years ago. So many goals to be set for Autism Awareness. I felt as if I had the world by the tail and I was ready to move mountains. This was further supported by the publicity that Targa NL has been receiving in the Globe and Mail, with photos of our cars (above), and the various media plugs that have supported our cause these past few weeks.

Perhaps when I get older and wiser I will realize that these feelings, while putting me on top of the world, and swelling my heart and mind with pride, have a way of reminding me of my imperfection. Whenever I go steps forward, I seem to end up a step or two back.

I and my co-driver, Jason, were humbled in competition today, with major mistakes in the sixth stage, due to an inaccurate odometer in our vehicle. We were humbled by our teammates, two brothers, new to targa, and enthusiastic about supporting autism awareness and competing in Grand Touring. How funny it is, when in life we have expectations, and have them change due to the challenges that are placed before us.

The rest of the Racing with the Reverend road team had challenges today as well. There are ample stories of the challenges of driving the RV, of getting to the transit stops, of making preparations for thCarwash Targa 2014e car show in the evening. The addition of the impromptu car wash of all 38 Targa cars that we worked on until 8:00 PM, not to mention the ongoing Go Pro issues and video editing of our work.

Again, one would think from previous blogs that I am living in a bubble disconnected from the community and world, and God and all around me. There is no doubt that each in the Targa NL 2014 competition has had their challenges. Beyond that, many more this day, who are working, learning, living and loving, have had their share of obstacles and struggles this day.

Many times life seems like a kind of dance of success or accomplishment. We take three steps forward, we take two backwards. We come with a set of expectations; things change, we adjust, and life looks different.

In the context of Motorsport competition, this may mean a lot for some. In the larger picture though, the concept of the dance of moving forwards and backwards is quite hard and exhausting. Consider those working for peace in the Middle East the past forty years. How many times has their dance gone back and forth? What about issues of human rights and dignity in differing parts of the world? Surely there is lots more to consider.

In the midst of all this, of course, and dear to the heart of our parish, of our Racing with the Reverend Team, and of those who support ouRacing Names 2014r cause, is those families and individuals affected by Autism and ASD. Each and every day these young people and their families are affected in ways that many of us just simply cannot fully understand. We are trying in our own little way to make a difference for these individuals and their families, because we believe that we are called by God to reach out to others, to come alongside others, and afford them the respect and justice for them that God intends.

Many times we cannot fully fathom this process, nor the affects that occur within communities, individuals, families, and the community of faith. This night, in our evening debrief, all seven of the Racing with the Reverend Road Crew (Drivers, Co-drivers and support team) had a chance to check in and offer their good news relating to autism awareness this day.  I was amazed at how each of us encountered God and was transformed. Hear the comments that sustain us this night, knowing that the work we are doing is helping those in need, and that together, we are on the frontiers of what church is and can be for so many who need God’s presence with them.

“People stopped to tell us thank you for all that we are doing.”

“Is my grandson’s name on the roof? If not, could I write it on? He has autism. This would mean so much to me.” (his name was already on through his parents)

My nephew has autism. He is coming in from St. John’s tomorrow, (2.5 hour drive).  Can he see you and the car?

At Mary Brown’s, a local restaurant: ” I have a 34 year old with autism  I appreciate all that you are doing.”

“I dropped by tonight with my children, one has autism. It is so good to see you and the car.”

“Kaleb is wearing the t-shirt that you gave him. God job guys, keep it up.”

“Can we get our photograph with you? We get to wear helmets! Cool!”

“That’s my favourite car right there, the one with the puzzle pieces.”

There are so many ways in which we as individuals and communities can share the negative aspects of life. We can focus on the dance that causes us to take steps backward. Conversely, we can move forward, and remind ourselves that the steps backward are balanced, and I believe overcompensated by the forward steps we take together in community when we stand with others in need and provide the justice that God intends for them.

David Burrows

About David Burrows

David Burrows is a priest of the church, currently serving in parish ministry within the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, a place he has called home for the past fifteen years. He consistently engages dialogue and action with the wider community through creative outreach projects. Cycling, kayaking, writing, and driving fast cars are distractions in his life.
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