In a new house, in the dark, it takes a while to be able to navigate from one room or floor or piece of furniture to the next. I forgot that. I thought I could make my way from the hallway upstairs and down to the first floor with just a hazy glow of not-quite-pitch-black-darkness in the stairwell. But I misjudged, the heel of my boot caught the first step and I felt myself falling. It would have been a bad fall, I am sure if it, were it not for a split-second decision to catch myself by rolling my right shoulder into the wall.
It was all instinct. And it worked. But my body has been making rounds on this orb for longer than I sometimes remember, and stumbles like the one I took the other day are quick to remind me things are not what they used to be. So I wrenched a shoulder that had already been speaking to me of its disappointment with, well, I don’t know why it’s been so upset with me.
I went to the doctor to see about it. And I’m not telling you this for the medical blow-by-blow because that’s not my style. But you might wonder how I ended up in the gym, listening to the Commodores through earbuds I’d plugged into my phone. I haven’t been to the gym in a while. I’ve had other things on my mind, and when my plate gets full, exercise is one of the first things to go. You too? Maybe that’s why my shoulder had been so upset in the first place.
Usually, I listen to David Crowder or the Brooklyn Tabernacle or Israel Houghton when I’m exercising. But H’s friend sent him a stack of CDs which arrived today in the mail, and so we were jamming out to Earth, Wind, and Fire when we rolled up into the parking lot of the gym. We sat in the car until “Fantasy” ended and into the beginning of the next song and had to pry ourselves away from Philip Bailey’s falsetto stylings to make sure we got our workout in. So, on the treadmill, I cued up the Commodores and hiked up the volume.
Do you know that H and I met at a Commodores concert, back in 1982? You should ask him to tell you the story. It’s a good one. And, at the moment we met, H says Lionel Richie was singing, “Just to be Close to You.” I know the song, but I honestly had never really listened to the lyrics. Do you know them?
After the treadmill, at the gym, I lift weights to strengthen my whiny, achy, stubborn shoulder. H works out on the other side of the gym, getting himself ready for a ski trip he has planned for February. Every now and then, when we’re working out together (but apart from each other), our eyes connect across the room and one of us winks.
I am fully aware of the fact that we’re the oldest ones in the building and gyms, well, they have a culture of their own, don’t they? We have always worked out together, and we have been the young, firm, fit, and fabulous ones running miles or climbing flights of stairs with barely a grunt or a groan. But I am curvier now. And sexier, I think. It’s a sexiness you’d have to know to understand or detect. I’m pretty sure my sexiness is lost on the pretty young things running miles and climbing flights of stairs with barely a grunt or a groan, and I am fine with that.
Because, when I pick up the lighter weights to do twelve reps of lateral raises, I can hear Lionel singing “Just to be Close to You” right into my head. And that’s when H walks by. So, I take one of the earbuds out of my ear and call him over, and I let him have a listen. We laugh out loud. Together. And then we go our separate ways.
But I can see him in the mirror behind me. And when I sit down on the mat to stretch, I turn to catch him watching me from the other side of the room. We’ve still got it. You might not know it, just to look at us, as we lift our tiny weights and walk a little bit slower than the rest of the crew. You wouldn’t know just how solid we feel, even with the space of an entire gym between us. Lionel Richie was singing our theme song, all those years ago.
Today in the gym, I listened to the words for the very first time. Say what you will, but I’m going to put this out there: God works through art that doesn’t fit neatly into the “Christian” section of the bookstores and music playlists. He sees beauty in the places we miss it.
I’m putting my shoulder on ice for a bit. If I’m not careful, I can let my shoulder and my progressive lenses and my gray hairs convince me I’m not in any cool people’s target audience anymore. But, while it has taken all these years to grow a little bit slower, it has also taken all these years to grow a marriage that makes me feel sexy in my not so young and firm and fit body that catches his eye across the room.
Some questions for you: How have you noticed your body changing? What do you think about those changes? Have you defined what sexiness means to you? What did you learn from the church (or the Church) about sexiness? Have you read this book?