This month, I have been listening to the audiobook of Sacred Rest by Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith. One concept Dr. Smith’s lays out is the idea of shifting to neutral like when you are at a car wash. You are asked to shift to neutral and step off the brake. Just let go and breathe. You don’t have to keep striving and doing and succeeding. You can just take a rest and trust that you will still stay on your path. Dr. Smith suggests that to truly create a restful life you need to shift to neutral throughout your day. This helps you to center yourself and be present. It puts into focus what is important and helps you move on in a more purpose-filled, peaceful way.
This idea of shifting to neutral reminds me of the Christian concept of being held by the hands of God. One does not have to do anything to win God’s favor, you just have to trust and be held. This is a relatively new concept for me. I was brought up Catholic, and when I was a child I thought of God as an omnipotent, fearful being. He knew everything about me and he judged my worth. I didn’t always live up the Catholic doctrines, so I spent much of my youth in fear, shame, and repentance. Later, as a teenager, I became a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, mainly because the minister was my friend’s father, and it had a robust youth group that did lots of community service projects. In this church, I felt like I was part of a family. I learned that I could make a difference in the world. God looked down at me and liked what he saw. Then I grew into my early twenties, and I forgot about God. Indeed, I questioned whether there was a God. I talked to him still, but I wasn’t sure he was listening. I went along in this way until my fifties when I got sick and was in tremendous pain for a year. I needed God, and he was there for me. He helped me along. He relieved my pain. He showed me how to get help, how to shift to neutral, take my foot off the brake, and just be held. I slowly healed and found ways to care for myself and get healthy. For the last decade or so, I have been developing my relationship with God. I speak to him daily and concentrate on all I’m grateful for.
A few days ago, I drove to my local carwash, Sunny Days. I stopped in front of the billboard and selected my wash: The Works – Supper Deluxe. That’s just what I needed, a supper-deluxe spa treatment. I handed the attendant my money, and she told me to shift to neutral, take my foot off the brake, and my hands off the steering wheel. I complied. I took a deep breath and entered the carwash. Thick green shammy strips engulfed my car like a sea of swaying algae. I closed my eyes and listened to the whir and hum of the machinery and whoosh of the water. My car glided on the conveyor belt. It was treated to a soapy wash, triple-foam polish, and a super shine. Inside the car, I kept my eyes closed, breathed deeply, and concentrated on the present moment. The car was blasted by the powerful dryer and eventually popped out the end of the carwash. I shifted from neutral to drive and smiled. It worked! Shifting to neutral worked! What if this carwash meditation became a trend? I could just imagine cars lined up for miles waiting to enter the carwash, waiting to shift to neutral, anticipating the joy of letting go and being held.
Books That Promote Peaceful Living
- A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
- Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by Ann Lamott
- Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
- Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton Smith
- Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman
- The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin
- Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities That Make Life Work by Lisa Brenninkmeyer