by Father Scott Wallisch
Before I entered the seminary, I worked for an engineering firm as a structural engineer.
The highlights of my four years in the practice were projects at Worlds of Fun, the amusement park in Kansas City, Mo.
I had the joy of designing the foundations for a few rides, including the Spinning Dragon. This roller coaster consists of a steel track with two rails that guide a car on a short, but eventful ride that includes climbs, drops, and horizontal loops. The car, which carries up to four passengers, is mounted on an axle and is free to rotate, based on the distribution of weight and the forces generated by movement along the track. As my favorite ride at the park, it has just enough thrills without sidelining my stomach for three hours.
While on the ride, you get turned in one direction and then the other. Sometimes you are slowly rising. Sometimes you are falling quickly. Whether you enjoy all the twists and turns or not, though, you are always confident that you will make it back to the queue house. You know you can trust the ride and its path, especially now that you know the ride’s foundation designer (ignoring the fact that he left the profession).
When I give presentations on vocations to young men and women, I often talk about coasters like the Spinning Dragon.I think experiences on these rides give us insight into the discernment process. When we are discerning our vocations, or when we are doing any sort of discernment, we may ask how we are to know that we have discerned well. What is God’s will for us? What sign should we be seeking?
Well, the sign is usually not external. Instead, it is an internal peace. God speaks to us with peace, a peace that brings confidence that we are on the right path. It is a peace that is so deep and foundational that, no matter how much our emotions may feel like they are on a roller coaster ride, we are confident that we are on the right path. A priest, religious, or married person who has discerned well, both his or her vocation and with whom to live it, can survive the highs and the lows, twists and turns of life, because they have the underlying, fulfilling peace from God that assures them they are on the right path.
So I encourage you to be not afraid of the amusement park of life, but I also encourage you to do good discernment before you choose your ride. If God has designed the foundations and the path, you will always find peace, even if you sometimes lose your lunch.