A contemplative visits the car wash

Posted on Thursday 3 September 2009

  Open air parking and a pair of 70 year old oak trees in the front yard mean that my car gets washed fairly often. Sometimes with the water hose and a bucket, but more frequently (and conveniently) at the drive thru car wash a few miles from home. 
The perky, onscreen video-girl chirps a greeting, and tells me to select my wash and “insert cash or a credit card.” A token for a few minutes of vacuuming drops with a clink when I do so. Then I drive forward and see the only human apparently employed there: a fellow who points me toward the rolling belt that will capture my tires – and once I’m properly aligned, motions for me to put the car in neutral.

That’s when the real fun begins.
I’m on a track I can’t see, moving at a rate of speed I can’t control. I can’t back up; my brakes are useless. I can only go forward. Moving arms and swirling brushes assault the car, flinging foamy soap every which way and slapping the windshield and windows with surprising force. Once the brushes descend completely my vision is obscured. I could be around the corner from home or in the Ukraine, for all I can tell. I hear threatening thumps just inches away, and the car rocks slightly as it eases forward. I can’t see where I started, or how near or far the end might be. I don’t know what spray or gel or finishing agent will come at me next.
The car wash is a lot like life.
Oh, I can entertain the illusion of control – at least for a while. But not for long. I’m in a groove that won’t let me go, and moving under a power not my own. I can’t manipulate the mess and motion around me, or command the things that threaten me to stop. But I’m held. And safely. No matter what momentary threats assail me, or for how long, I will be released at the appointed time – bright, blown, buffed and clean…and surely better for all the wear and worry.
Imagine: receiving far more than four dollars worth of spiritual tutoring not three minutes from home. If the owners of this place knew what they were dispensing along with the foam and film and spray, I’ll bet they’d find a way to charge extra.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NASB)

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