Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010. 10.27 Countercultural Spirituality

I went to get my free pass during open house week, a short five days, at a women’s healthworks fitness “club.” The word club at first turned me off. I thought of the infamous country club, source of my father’s worst binges and my mother’s worst anxieties. But I knew that was irrational. So I headed off.

This club was exclusive. It was for me, for all women. I had heard of it from a colleague so it must be good. I told myself all these things and ignored my body’s inner twitch of resistance.

I had been looking for a good yoga class and also maybe some place to go that had treadmills, bikes and the like for when the weather became unwalkably cold.

The women at the front desk were welcoming and smiled. I filled out a lengthy form swearing to hold them harmless in case I dropped dead and wondering if I needed a physician’s permission if I told them I had asthma—or my age. They wanted all of it so I was honest.

The apparent director came bustling over, perused my form, asked a few questions about my experience, then told me what I should be taking and the fee to join the club. It was open house week so I didn’t have to make a commitment. Then she gave me a whirlwind tour and showed me all the amenities, lockers, showers, sauna and machines. Nice.

I decided to stay and,needing better definition myself, take Body Defined because my friend was in that class—and it was only an hour. How could lifting a few weights, some of which I do at home and stretching hurt.

When I got to the class I had no idea what to do. The teacher didn’t seem to remember she’d just met me and I was new. Women were scurrying about picking out their weights, their mats and a platform apparatus. thank God my friend was there.

The class was just not my style—too fast, too breathless, too noisy. The director barked out the instructions, a voiceover competing with the loud, incessant, and absolutely unvarying beat of rock and roll. I thought of the boom box cars that drum down the street driven by young bobble-heads and wondered if people in this culture ever sat still.

This club had minimal relational hospitality and stressful pacing of motility in class. It seemed like the culture we live in today that keeps a pace so exhaustive, frenzied, and draining that you’d think life itself was a race. For what?

I need something countercultural. A seminary professor of mine once warned us that sound religion and spirituality was always countercultural. For Christians he put it this way: “Look for Christ in the margins.” Don’t know about Jesus but clubs like this and I don’t mix.

People crab about religions being a danger to yours soul’s health. Culture can be too.

If you immerse and saturate yourself in the pace of this culture you might get sick, and what you think is healthy might not be.

I’m headed for the margins.