by Elizabeth Rechter
A friend of mine has been going through chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer. Upon her diagnosis, she sought out a homeopathic doctor to see what other approaches were available for her healing process. As I listened to the list of possibilities, one suggestion was “Grounding.” What is that? Walk outside in your bare feet. Physically connect with the ground as a healing practice. When was the last time I walked on the ground barefoot? I do know the wonder of walking along the sea shore, sole to sand.
In the spiritual journey we talk about groundedness. Paul Tillich taught us to think of God as the ground of being, or what I like to refer to as solid ground. Our world is full of shifting sands, and life itself can seem like a series of earthquakes that release tremors of grief, loss and dark nights. Birth, joy and falling in love, too, can leave us shaking in our boots.
Recently, my son-in-law introduced me to a shoe company that specializes in barefoot technology. Your foot, they say, is all the technology you need. Nike and other shoe companies have convinced us that our feet need lots of expensive protection and technology to absorb shock. Actually, no. What we need is to feel the ground under us. Our feet know how to make their own adjustments.
I believe the same is true for our souls. Instead of surrounding ourselves with shock absorption, we would do better to live with a grounded stance, noticing what we are bumping into and trusting that our own listening presence is good technology.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
from The Guest House,
Spiritual practices help ground us and put us in touch with what is really real now. Spiritual Direction can be a gift of solid ground for the soul to help us listen deeply and with bare souls.
Parker Palmer writes remarkably about his struggle with clinical depression in his book, Let Your Life Speak. He reveals that his depression grew out of an ungrounded life of intellectualizing God and other life experiences, while measuring his life by oughts and shoulds, rather than his own reality.
“After hours of careful listening, my therapist offered an image that helped me eventually reclaim my life. ‘You seem to look upon depression as the hand of an enemy trying to crush you,’ he said. ‘Do you think you could see it instead as the hand of a friend, pressing you down to ground on which it is safe to stand?‘”
The word “human” in Hebrew means “person of the ground.” We all need companions for this ground work. Sometimes it is a good therapist, but always good soul friends. May we be steadfast in finding our way to our true selves, and in being good companions for others on the way to this Holy Land.
– Elizabeth Rechter
is Stillpoint’s Executive Director