10.08.2014

Did You Say *Shorts*?

While I've never met her in real life, our paths cross with frequency in internet land, so I can't even tell you how happy I was when my little raffle generator randomly chose Diana Trautwein's name as the winner of a guest spot here. When she admitted a little trepidation about writing for you people, "What do they possibly want to hear from a nearly 70-year-old retired pastor-at-mid-life with a passel of grandkids and a creaky body?", I replied, "The world has a lot to learn from a nearly 70-year-old retired pastor-at-mid-life with a passel of grandkids and a creaky body. We're listening!" Welcome, Diane! And thank you.
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Did You Say Shorts?

Getting old is ripe with indignities. Go ahead, ask me how I know. I watch my 93-year-old mom take daily steps further into the haze of dementia, and I fear for the future. And then I realize -- the future is here. Yowza.

In four months, I will be 70 years old. 7-0. I remember struggling a bit with 35, taking a deep breath at 40, sort of reveling in 50 and feeling resolute about 60. But 70?

The word that comes to mind is sobering.

Also?

More than a little bit humiliating. Case in point. About a year ago, I injured my left foot while taking a morning walk -- on vacation, no less. That led to a couple of months of physical therapy, which led to a different injury, same foot, which led to three months of tests, boots, ice packs, and assorted piles of pillows. Ultimately, a new set of x-rays revealed a congenitally crooked heel bone, which had likely led to the two tendon insults in the first place, one of which proved to be a nearly irreparable tear.

And that meant surgery -- to break and reset (with two titanium screws) that gnarly bone problem and to clean-up and re-connect the bashed tendon. Which meant, NO weight-bearing for a minimum of two months.

And? Ta-da. MORE physical therapy. I am happy to report that I am now walking, in two shoes, and trying to re-learn how to move this elderly ankle of mine. And just last week, I was invited to try out a brand, spankin’ new, space-age treadmill called the Super G.

Super G.

What they did not tell me is that to use this machine, I had to wriggle myself into a pair of strangely shaped walking shorts made of neoprene. Listen to me now -- I have not worn shorts of any kind in over twenty years. Twenty years. Even when I was younger, stronger, and more shapely, getting into this particular pair of shorts would have been a good trick. Now? Holy Toledo, it is . . . well, humiliating.

In a good way, of course. Yeah, that is pretty much the oxymoron of the century, I know. But what this strange, gravity-defying machine is teaching me is that sometimes humiliation can be a very good thing.

And the humiliation does not stop with the ugly shorts. Oh, no. The plastic bubble, that encases the treadmill and is zipped to the shorts into which I have stuffed myself, comes equipped with two cameras, one of which shows the backs of these nearly 70-year-old legs as I re-learn how to walk in a gravity-controlled environment. Yup, every varicose vein, every age spot, every scar shows up on an over-sized TV screen mounted in front of my face as I walk.

Sigh.

But. I am walking! And at 50% gravity, I am walking normally, with no pain, no limp, no stiffness. So I am learning to put up with the view, in fact in a small corner of my heart, I am celebrating the view, and thanking God for the gifts that come with technology and human inventiveness.

These ugly old legs have served me well over this life of mine. They’ve walked me through a great education, they caught the eye of the man who would become my remarkable husband, walked the red-dirt roads of central Africa for a couple of years, helped to push out three of the planet’s finest human creatures, took me to school concerts, choir practice, four years of seminary classes, seventeen years of pastoral ministry. They’ve walked me right into grandparenting a fine crew of people, the eldest of whom is now the age I was when his mom was born, and the youngest, still small enough to gather up in a big hug.

Yes, these legs are old. They are scarred, they are imperfect, and right now, they need a little help to walk well. But they’re still strong, still take me where I need to go, still let me offer my gifts and tell my stories to all kinds of people in all kinds of places.

So when I squeeze myself into those shorts later this afternoon, I’m going to try and concentrate on how this particular humiliation is opening the door to healing. I’m sure I’ll blush, make self-deprecating remarks and wish like crazy I could find an easier way to do this! But in the end, I am praying for the grace to recognize that a step toward healing is a step toward healing, no matter what indignities I may have to endure to get there.

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Diana is "a retired-part-time-pastor-learning-to-be-a-spiritual-director with a family I adore sensing an increasingly urgent call to write-my-life-down, to preserve my sanity and create some space to breath."


Read more on her blog, www.dianatrautwein.com, and be sure to follow along with her on Facebook and Twitter



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What are the indignities of life be teaching you? 

And also. When was the last time you wore shorts?.... (I cannot even remember.)