Prayer of thanks for the drive thru car wash

Find joy in life's small moments of wonder.
Our Faith

For the times I line up the wheels of my car into the tracks that lead into the car wash tunnel without the guidance of an attendant. The thrill is akin to parallel parking with just an inch on either side, on the first try. I feel like I’m a pilot or an astronaut and if I do nothing else good that day, You will remind me, that night, as I lay my head down on my pillow, how I rocked the car wash tracks.

For those first jets of soap, sudsy joy, spitting along the sides of my car. That small bit of panic as soap covers each window, like a snowstorm. I am filled with anxious exhilaration as I can’t see anything, and then filled with thanks for the glorious streams of clean water that clear away the darkness.

For the big rollers that buff and shine and sheen and burnish and hug and cuddle and bump and embrace.

For the dryer that propels beads of water across my windshield in a way that can only be described as the way stars would look from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon when I hit light speed. I throw my body back against my seat and pretend I’m a smuggler, zipping through the galaxies.


For the green light signaling that I may press my foot back on the brake, place the car in drive and join the regular world once again, clean, exhilarated, fresh, and jubilant.

May I always remember the glimpse of my sons in the rearview mirror that first time I took them through the car wash. They were but toddlers and the older clasped his hands by his face in delight and the younger stretched his out as if he was on a raucous rollercoaster. They have never been to an amusement park but they were just as happy. In their delight, I saw how cynical and careless I’d become, that I could no longer be thrilled by the tunnel of foam.

May they always be the kind of people who find enchantment in taking a spin through Lather Lane. May they never lose the sense of wonder nor let contempt fill them to the point that they cannot be entertained by a $7.99 wash and dry. 

This article also appears in the January 2020 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 85, No. 1, pages 26–27). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Image: Courtesy of Shemaiah Gonzalez

About the author

Shemaiah Gonzalez

Shemaiah Gonzalez writes on art and faith through storytelling. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Justo, and their two sons. She spends most of her time looking for glimpses of God’s glory. She finds it everywhere from Van Gogh’s paintings to Kendrick Lamar’s rhymes, and in ordinary places like the drive thru car wash. She tweets at @shemaiahng.

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