Ever since reading Thoreau’s Life on Walden Pond when I was in high school, I have made a deliberate effort to return anything I’ve borrowed in better shape than it was when I got it. In Henry’s case, all he had to do was sharpen a neighbor’s axe. I needed to wash a friend’s ATV.
I’d used it to pick up the trail arrows and marking flags from our annual 5K mud run for South Central Kansas Medical Center. A mile of freshly plowed field just after two inches of rain left a very heavy coating of mud on the Polaris Ranger.
Happily, the hospital has a few strategically placed faucets around the outside of the buildings, including the maintenance shop. Unhappily, all of them require a special handle that I didn’t have. “Ah, well,” I mulled, “I can sneak a couple of miles down the back road and use the car wash at the Casey’s store at Skyline and Summit.”
The possibility of getting ticketed for illegal operation of an off-road vehicle in an on-road situation didn’t really appeal to me. Could easily turn into a very expensive car wash. “Well,” I thought, “there are several houses between here and there; I’ll just stop and ask if some generous soul will let me use their outdoor laundry facilities to give this here mud buggy a good washing.”
Less than fifty feet after I’d pulled out of the hospital’s service and delivery entrance and headed south on 61st Road, I saw a white SUV turning into the driveway of the next house. By the time the couple got out of the car, the Ranger was sitting in their driveway.
I explained the situation to Garrett and he acted like helping me return a clean ATV was the very reason he’d gotten out of bed that morning. He unrolled the hose, brought me out a bucket, two cleaning cloths and a bottle of dishwashing soap.
Three things amazed me in the next hour: 1) how many places there are on, in and around a Polaris Ranger that can hold bits of mud and matted grass; 2) how accessible most of those places are, thanks to some excellent engineering work; 3) how delightful it is when strangers show us generosity and consideration.
I’m a bit suspicious that the Good Lord laughs out loud when we discover how cleverly he uses us to help take care of one another—even in a situation as mundane as a vehicle needing a bath. I’m quite sure Jesus loves making us cleaner than he found us!