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There is one lovely thing about working out with girls 40 years my junior – I can be totally invisible.

My shoulder has finally healed enough for me to resume taking Zumba classes at the college nearby. After 8 or 9 hours at a computer screen all day it feels great to let loose and dance. Zumba is like going to a cardio party set to a Latin beat.

With 50 young women in the room, this older one gets right up in front so I can follow the instructor’s moves. I never feel self-conscious because my age renders me pretty much invisible (other than the time I stopped the class with a rather spectacular fall on my bad shoulder last year.)

But most of the time no one really sees me, and I like it that way. Being able to move in their midst unnoticed makes me feel like a superhero, an Invisible Woman  who can come and go unheeded. I can’t read their minds – God alone is omniscient – but I have a pretty good idea of what some of them will go through in the next 40 years. Sunshine and shade. Times of great blessing but also burdens they haven’t yet thought to bear.

Tonight we were sweating to a song by Shakira and I thought back to my own freshman year at Wheaton in 1971. I stay in touch with 6 or 7 women from my class, and my prayers for them over the years could fill several journals. One has survived cancer; another divorce. One struggles to care for a spouse who is permanently disabled; another has had to file a court order to keep a parent with dementia in a facility where she will be safe. One of my closest friends has been brain-damaged herself since a serious accident shortly after we graduated.

My Zumba classmates spun to face the back wall and I looked at these bright young women in front of me. What would I tell them if I could, I wondered? Would I caution them that the decades ahead will have challenges far bigger than the academic deadlines they currently face?   Would I warn them that life has no guarantees? That some of them may not reach the age I have been fortunate to attain?

 These are lessons they will have to learn themselves. It took the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt 40 years to reach the Promised Land – a journey that Deut. 1:2 tells us could have been completed in just 11 days. Their failure to trust God completely cost them dearly.

 I think of my own wilderness wanderings. I have been a Christ-follower for over 40 years now, and too often I have failed to find the promised land of peace. I’ve allowed anxieties to slow me down, fears to enslave me. I know the Scriptures. 365 times in the Old Testament and the Newer One we are implored to fear not. Why have I been so slow to learn this?

Last week Mike hung a sampler in our guestroom that my sister-in-law stitched for me as a gift. It’s a copy of a Victorian piece that I spotted hanging in an old home in North Carolina last summer. Jody recreated it for me using thread in punched paper, and I found an artisan online who built a twig frame. It says simply, “Do Right, and Fear Not.”

It’s good advice for me, and as for my Zumba classmates? They will find their own way to the Promised Land, and if I can hold out a hand and help them along the way, I surely will.

Invisible Woman or not.