It felt brave and beautiful to take care of me. Of this one mom and one wife in this family.
And it felt especially beautiful to be required not to wear lotions or makeup. I’m forty and this is my unfiltered skin and I love it more now than I did when I was 18. Probably because I’m so much more comfortable in it.
And I don’t take it quite as much for granted now as I did then.
Even though sometimes months go by before I remember to stretch it and exercise it.
I’ve been hunched over a computer and conferences and deadlines and this floor I have to sweep at least twice a day it seems. What with the Cheerios and giving notice on our lease and the people all coming through at all hours to see this place we call home I’m more than a little self conscious of the mud tracks that seem to haunt my days.
It’s in the high 80s and the last thing that makes sense is to put on leggings. But I do. I roll out in the old white minivan and roll down the windows and let the music and the kid-free-quiet settle into the hot seats along with my legs that haven’t run anywhere in way too long.
My goals aren’t big. They’re not Vogue or Cosmo, they’re just for company and a place to fling back these shoulders that have spent too long hunched over words on a screen. The music is already thumping through the floor boards when I arrive. Funny how joy can sound like a Latin beat and a roomful of women all stomping in time.
I’m not the oldest or the youngest in the room. No one knows my name. But I feel so deeply welcome. All that’s required is a willingness to sweat. I do. I feel it running down my back and it heals me in places that have been asleep for too long. I need to move like this. I know it will hurt tomorrow. But right now I need this room and these women. They remind me of all that is good and beautiful and strong with my gender.
There are several old enough to be my mom. In all shades of human. Dancing, dancing with flair and all the rhythm that I seem to have lost. Their hips sing and I grin and try not to catch my own eye in the mirror because I know I’ll just laugh at my own off balance reflection.
But these women with sinews and thighs and strong hands are too busy celebrating this business of being alive. This love song to humanity. It’s impossible to look away.
Did you know that Jesus showed up in a gym in Northern Virginia yesterday?
He looked a lot like His daughters.
All this determination they have to put His creation through the motions. To feel the blood pump and thump and the smiles crack at the end of a movement all exhausted and exhilarated and connected by a class that happens every week.
I keep at it. Even though the clock hand moves so desperately slowly and the class feels like forever, I stop counting minutes and start counting women. Long hair stuck down her back. Short legs over there. Strong arms next to me and the accountant one row away who moves like a dancer in her own spotlight.
I love them so much. These women I don’t know. I love them.
So strong, so capable, so beloved.
I would write them a love song if I could – the sisterhood of believers who don’t know how brave they are until they do.
Until they get up at 4:30 to provide for those kids. Until they cut and bleed to deliver that baby. Until they serve in the homeroom year in and year out. Until they meet the ambulance at the hospital. Until they say good-bye to their parents, their homes, their jobs, the version of themselves they’ve known best for decades.
So much brave beating in time to a hallelujah chorus on the stereo speakers.
So much remarkable.
So much strength.
And on the days I remember to pay attention I see how we’re all still wild with the wonder of being women.