Summers for us always mean travel. Sometimes as far as Colorado or Utah, but lately, just as far as the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Travel means time in the car, miles on the road, and, inevitably, a filthy car.
So, a few days ago, while my children were napping, I realized that I had reached my breaking point. After driving around all day in a car that smelled more like farts than air freshener, it was time; time to clean the car.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I cleaned crevices of my vehicle that I didn’t even know were there. I burned incense, I scrubbed nooks and crannies, I found things I’m not proud of – like, a breastmilk storage bag (yeah, that’s from a while ago…), about a cup of loose trail mix *with* chocolate that had melted and coated precious cargo all inside the console and more than a school, perhaps a whole district, of goldfish crackers, oh, and several odd socks.
As I scrubbed and sorted, trashed and rehomed things, I thought two thoughts. First, I berated myself for being, historically, the biggest slob ever. And then I thought, my God, this is prayer. I recalled the words of the Psalmist: “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.” And then I burned more incense. As I scrubbed, I didn’t just pray for my own flawed and marvelous being, but others came to mind, too. Friends in transitional phases, friends grieving loved ones who have passed or are passing, family members in various stages of recovery. I held all of this as I breathed an aroma of Nag Champa and Windex… and I gave thanks for my car, too. Why not? It has been reliable despite frequent messes; it’s gotten me where I’ve needed to go and – praise God – kept my family safe on our many excursions in it.
On one of our local adventures, we ended up at a favorite “up north” lunch spot, the Delta Diner. When we were waiting at our table, I noticed a flyer for a “Blessing of the Bikes” service coming up this Saturday. I have seen churches do this, but the diner setting fascinated me. So, I asked one of the waitresses about it. Turns out they’ve been doing it for years. Sometimes a Catholic Priest blesses cycles and Harleys, sometimes a guy named “Pastor Art” does it.
“I’m a minister,” I said. “So, I like things like this.”
“Oh!” the waitress beamed, thrusting a business card in my hand. “You must call Todd! Maybe you could bless the bikes some time!”
It felt good to be recommended, and it got me thinking, if prayer can happen in my garage, as I sift through trash and treasures and remember one of my favorite Psalms, then, hey – why not? Why not gather for blessings in the parking lot of a quirky diner, tucked away in the Northwoods of Wisconsin?