Back in my tender youth, a common discipline my parents used when us kids caused trouble would be to “ground” us for a day or two. “You’re grounded!” were the worst two words we could imagine, because it meant being limited to home base for the length of the penalty sentence. No friends in, no outings to the mall or movies. It sometimes included no phone calls. Mind you, this was in the medieval period before cell phones and computers, so the confinement was comprehensive. Being stuck at home with Mom and Dad (ugh!!), cut off from besties was utter torture. And while using time at home as punishment may be a questionable method of persuasion, it was an effective deterrent!
Fast forward to today. “Grounded” also means being centered, down to earth, focused, sensible, even wise. It can mean what something is based in, e.g. grounded in facts. In the world of contemplative spirituality, it can imply being in touch with God as the center. Twentieth century theologian Paul Tillich called God the “Ground of Being” that everything else comes from, a powerful image. As an avid gardener and nature lover, I relish the further metaphor of the Ground as the home from which we all came, that life is still sustained by. The Ground is where I find connection in a physical and spiritual sense, where I hear the Creator actively speaking in Creation. I am learning afresh how vital it is for me to regularly be outside: to breathe calm back into my hectic thoughts, to greet the newest sprout in my container gardens, to hear the distinct chitter and feel awe as hummingbirds zoom past to the feeders.
While “divided and polarized” has become a cliche to describe our country, it is also true. The signs are unavoidable, the effects pervasive. I hear the anxiety everywhere in the concerns of my friends, family, colleagues, clients, even strangers on the street. Helping others hear God’s invitations to get to the roots of it and bring healing change is central to my work, but it also requires me to stay grounded in order to do that. With so many places and people in conflict, it is often overwhelming and threatens to pull me off-center. I need consistent habits of regrouping and being in beautiful wild outdoor places to replenish my soul.
Maybe I need to be grounded again! Could someone tell me I have to be home for a day, unplug, and be with those who birthed me?? Now it would not feel like punishment, but blessed relief and reminder. Reconnecting with myself and God through gardening or just lying on my third floor deck with my cats to watch the clouds and hear the birds brings the scattered pieces of myself back together. I love the calm and perspective that creeps back when I remember to do that.
How do you stay grounded? What pulls you back to yourself, to the Sacred? What’s your go-to when life feels like a speeding merry-go-round? If you don’t have a practice, here’s one: go outside. Find a quiet place and walk around. Turn off your phone (gasp!) and lie on the ground to look up at the sky. Really look! How many colors do you see? What other living things cross your view? It’s crazy interesting. Feel the earth pressing back, holding you up with no effort on your part at all. Breathe in calm. Be held. Be grounded.