There are a lot of things to do on days off. Laundry, cleaning and the one thing I only get to do maybe 5 times a year…get my car completely cleaned, inside and out. This is not one of those “stop and get gas and …oh, by the way, “do you want a car wash?” questions at the gas pump. Oh no…this is the dipsy doodle of car washes…the Grand Poobah of car washes, the “vacuum the rubble and scrub it with bubbles” car wash of washes. And it isn’t just running it through an automated wash…oh no. This wash takes an hour and fifteen minutes where they clean the floor mats, vacuum between the seats, vacuum out the A/C vents, deep clean the leather seats and polish the tires. You buy popcorn for this kind of car wash and then sit under a shaded area to watch 5 people crowd around and into your vehicle to polish the paint, moisturize the leather seats, lovingly clean your wheels and use little bitty brushes to get in between the buttons on your dashboard. By the time they’re done, you have a ride that Mario Andretti would be proud to drive.
After paying, I went outside to sit and watch the 20 or so employees polishing other vehicles and taking tiny brushes around the rims or tires making everything gleam. At first I went and sat way down on rows of benches, but I have to talk…it’s a sickness with me. I have to have someone to talk to about something…anything. So I moved from being a loner to a bench where a young woman was sitting. I asked if I could sit and she kindly said yes. It was a better seat, and I could see my car smile at me in anticipation of getting all scrubbed up. (yes, I have problems…) I looked at the woman and asked, like a proud parent standing at the window of the nursery in a hospital, “Which one is yours?”
She kind of giggled at me and said, “You’re really into this aren’t you? “ I laughed and said, it was a rare that I ever spent much money on my car, but when I did, I tended to go overboard. I learned that her name was Sarah. She smiled broadly and said it was rare too, but she and her husband were so busy, that this was the only time she had to do it. Of course, I asked what kept them so busy. She said her husband was the worship pastor at a church in Thompson Station, not far from Brentwood. I was thrilled because I loved worship and she was so excited about it. She then told me about her children…and one in particular. She said “We have a special needs child and sometimes he takes more attention than the others, but how happy he is!” I was curious about that so I asked her. “Is it hard for you?” referring to having a special needs child when everyone around them had lots of children with no special needs whatsoever. Her 30 something eyes narrowed as she spoke.
“I fell in love with him when he was born right away.” She continued to say, “He can’t speak, and is challenged to communicate with us, but his eyes tell me the whole story when I look into them…” her voice spoke tenderly as she imagined his image in front of her while we spoke. A smile came upon her face. She looked at me squarely, “Travis opens people to the love of God by looking and smiling at them… he communicates acceptance, friendship and God’s love”…
I discovered that she and her husband were going on a short trip together just to have some alone time. Her mother and father were coming in to take care of their children. I asked if she worried about Travis while she was gone. “I worry about them all! she said. “Travis is the one I least worry about.” “He picks daisies and brings them to me, to my husband and he’ll pick them for my mother too. He gives daisies to EVERYONE!”
She laughed out loud…”He picks SO many flowers…he’s my flower child!” She told me she wanted to do more in ministry and I asked her if I could pray for her. She bowed her head. “Lord, I ask for my new friend that you would give her the desire of her heart to do something in ministry that will be useful and meaningful. I ask that she would be used to do exactly what Travis does…to communicate acceptance, friendship and God’s love.” As if on cue, over the car wash speakers came her name…I stood and gave her a daddy hug. She thanked me for the prayer and one of the workers cleaning her vehicle came over and asked her to come look at her car. We waved goodbye with promises to keep each other in prayer.
It took another 30 minutes or so for my little Solstice to get finished, but finally the speaker blurted out my name and I went walking toward the car. The guy who was showing me the vehicle proudly walked me around it. I thanked him and gave him a really good tip. I’ve worked in service industries and you need to always tip people as MUCH as you can afford to tip…it is really how they make their living.
As I went to open my door and get in, I broke out into a huge smile. Before she had left, she had found a moment to gather from the trash can one of three dozen daisies that had been cleaned out of her car and placed the prettiest one on my drivers seat. Travis had touched me and made me smile without ever having met him. God savors the gifts that other people throw away. Sarah had known Travis was a Down’s syndrome baby before she gave birth to him, but determined not to throw him away. And out of the trash she had chosen one of her sweet boys precious daisies and rescued it from the trash so it could bring another person joy. I have pressed it in a book at home to always remember that God doesn’t make trash…he gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a boy with smiling eyes to communicate His love ….PERFECTLY!