I had spent a year of my life away from the bowels of my neighborhood gym. It wasn’t overly intentional, but one thing led to another and there I was, twenty pounds overweight. Eating like a pig didn’t help. I kept telling myself I was going to turn it around “this coming week.” This coming week took a long time to arrive.
Early this year I noticed an ad for a two-month fitness class, so I girded up my loins, signed on, and jumped in. I figured this would be my jump start on a return to my boyish figure. Man, am I out of shape!
A Pleasant Experience
Because I signed up for the 8 am sessions, I assumed my class would be made up of young mothers and maybe a couple of retirees. For once, I was correct (almost). My workout team consisted of four mothers, a trainer named Susan, and one old geezer (me). This boded well for me for two reasons. One) they were gentle with me (sort of), and Two) they embraced me as one of their own. In short, they made it a pleasant experience (or as pleasant as these sorts of things can be).
I must say, however, I had a very rude awakening during the very first session. As we were in the midst of one of our grueling exercises, Susan barked out a rather distasteful command. She yelled, “Belly button to spine!”
Please take a moment to meditate on that directive. Picture it in your mind if you will. I had joined this class because my belly button had undertaken a long journey in the opposite direction of my spine. There are several extra inches between the two that had not been there when I was eighteen. I was thoroughly offended.
If one were to work out the math, the conjoining of my belly button and spine would be roughly the equivalent of the formula for launching a human being into outer space. These things don’t just happen (at least not without a modern day miracle).
She promptly ignored it.
I immediately put forward a strong suggestion that the phrase, “belly button to spine,” never be uttered in our hearing again. Susan acknowledged my complaint and promptly ignored it. In fact, I truly believe she used it during the final eight weeks merely to taunt me repeatedly. Such is life at the fitness center.
I realize that our belly buttons cannot touch our spines. Furthermore, I suspect Susan realizes this as well. Her proposed gyrations were undoubtedly an encouragement to simply head in the proper direction. It was merely another way of saying, “Do it right.”
During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did the same thing. He urged us to do a lot of things he knew we’d never fully accomplish in this life. Still, he wanted us to try. He knew we’d all be better off if we did. It was his way of saying, “Belly button to spine!” Apparently, he and Susan have a lot in common.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]