This last month has not been stellar for my family. Two car accidents, a broken foot, health problems, and cancelled work contracts all added up to more than we had on reserve, both emotionally and financially. So when I got in the banged up car that was NOT in the shop and it sputtered and threatened to die, my heart sank. Rationally I knew that whatever happened with the car we’d be fine. But I also believe that the Lord is aware of our breaking points, and I was dangerously close to mine. That’s when I laid my hands on the dashboard on my ’98 Sienna and asked that its life be extended and expressed my gratitude for a car that has seen me through so much. In short I blessed my car.
While the judgy part of my brain thinks my actions were a bit ridiculous and possibly heretical, there’s another part that wonders how my praying for a car is any different from the stories we hear of a pioneer woman blessing her fallen oxen. I also thought of my father and his fondness for referencing Eugene England’s essay “Blessing the Chevrolet.” My dad was a bit sarcastic about it and always laughed at the absurd image of England laying his hands on the hood of his old Chevy that refused to start while he was traveling out of town. “If he’d bought a Toyota he never would have had to resort to such measures!” my dad remarked one time. But I could tell he never doubted that the blessing, however unorthodox, had been efficacious. It was priesthood power, and not luck, that got that car going again.
Others may find my actions disturbing not because the recipient of the blessing is a vehicle, but because I am a woman and hence, am not authorized to give blessings. As anyone who has read about the early days of the Church knows, women routinely gave blessings. And the temple is filled with women who exercise that gift. Much has been written about this by people much cleverer than I am. But let me add that there are many wonderful spiritual gifts out there. As these are gifts that Lord gives freely and are used to bless the lives of others, I see nothing wrong with being the vehicle of these blessings.
The next day I took in the car (that I affectionately refer to as Grizzly) and my mechanic diagnosed it as a loose thingey-ma-bobber, kept if for a half hour, and charged me $40. When I returned home I got on my knees and thanked the Lord for his tender mercies and pledged to be generous with whatever life was left in that car. Ever since my husband’s grandma loaned us a car in 2000 when ours broke, he has insisted that if we have a second car, we need to be willing to loan it to anyone who needs it. So Grizzly spends a fair portion of her life in other people’s driveways. I am convinced that the goodness of my husband’s heart has been returned to us over and over. Call it karma, or better still, “carma.”
So what is my point? I believe that the Lord watches over us in our trials, whether large or small. I believe that as a faithful saint I have access to the priesthood. I believe that blessings are a sacred and powerful means of comingling our righteous desires and concerns with the Lord’s. I believe in miracles, even in the automotive variety. I believe in the spirit of reciprocity, that all our sacrifices and service will flow back to us in a tidal wave of blessings.
Because Grizzly is old and our lives are busy, she doesn’t get tidied up much. For a whole week after this incident I could see an imprint of my two outstretched hands, a testimony in dust, stamped on the dashboard. The marks have since faded but my faith has not.