Editor in a Windshield

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of
Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.

If I were to hang a label on my car rearview window, it would say Windshield: Eyes Only.

My holy shrine is the inside of my car windshield. So sacred is the space that I will let a bug roam unmolested leaving its filthy footprints. Until it reaches the dashboard.

My windshield is like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea—a no-man’s land sanctuary for flora and fauna. No one touches. No one thinks of touching.

Why? Because if there’s a chip, I stare at the mark instead of the road. Because a fingerprint leads to smudges and a professional clean leaves streaks. Any mark inside the windshield, at that point, I install a new windshield.

I should have told my family.

Frosty winters in Idaho are the norm, and with no garage, we pull out the scraper and clean off the ice and snow. The outside of the windshield is touchable with the right utensils. But one day, as I packed my bags, my wife started the car and the kids beat me outside. My son and daughter had already cleared the frost from the windshield. 

What I saw next is seared into my memory. Six hands pressed against the inside of the windshield. 

The world around me moved in slow motion, including my voice.


“No. No. No. No.” I jerked the door open.

My wife, son, and daughter leaned forward and pressed their palms against the consecrated glass. “Look, Daddy,” my daughter said. “We can melt the ice faster. It’s cold, though.” She pulled her hands back and rubbed them together.

Numb, and as if in a dream, I sat in the driver’s seat and surveyed the damage.

I could see through the windshield.

Incredible. They’d destroyed the sanctity of the untouched glass, but I could see. Clearly.

Sometimes our manuscripts are sacred ground, and we’re loath to let an editor touch our work. Yes, when the editor is finished, our work will be smudged with their fingerprints. But with their input—their hands against the windshield—the manuscript will be cleaned efficiently. And you’ll learn to let go of your sacred windshields.