There are times and seasons in life that feel like your roots get pulled out from underneath you, where you feel displaced and uncertain. On any given day, anything, from the monotony of ordinary living to disruptive and unexpected twists and turns, can make you feel spun out like you’re caught in a hurricane; adrenal pumping, heart racing, like your feet are off the ground and you’re floating with no control. Uprooted. Unbalanced. Ready to fight, flight, freeze or fawn your way out of there.
This is why the practice of being grounded can be so helpful and healing. The Apostle Paul said something that I think in essence describes the feeling of being grounded when he said: “A sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.” And, interestingly, Paul was talking about prayer when he said the above verse- prayer not being a ritual or words said at the right time and in the right order, but prayer, being the practice of awareness. Prayer is a grounding practice. And yes, it might involve rituals and words, forms and functions, but they are only ever the vehicle, not the destination.
To be grounded is to connect into your centre that gravitational force of love within you. To be grounded is to have your feet, proverbial and physical, firmly planted on the earth, in the life that you have, the life that you are. To be grounded is to be here, now, when all you want to be is someone else and somewhere else. And because those feelings can be so strong and heavy and influential, because it’s so easy to be tossed to and fro by the things that happen around you and in you, because it’s so easy to be pulled into the shoulds and coulds and woulds and the things you don’t have and the things you are not and things that you have and are that you’re made to believe are pulling you back.
Stop. Settle. Soften. Breathe. Hand on your heart. Feet on the Ground. Here as you are. There’s a story in Genesis about a man named Jacob who had a dream about a ladder that connected heaven and earth. It was a revelation of oneness, of two realities infiltrating each other, becoming one, blending, mixing and being together. In some sects of ancient Judaism, Jacob’s ladder came to be seen as a tree; its roots firmly planted in the deep, dark, rich soil of the earth and its branches reaching up and hugging the glory of the heavens. The tree exists in both places because trees know that to go high, to be all it can be, to be itself in all its fullness, to experience the abundance of the heavens, it must dig down deep into the dirt, be planted firmly and truly into the earth.
And the other thing with trees? They bend, they sway, they lean into the wind, embrace the sun, drink the rain, adapting and stay present to all the seasons it sees until it once again, as all things do, turns to seed to be planted again, and again, and again. The thread of life working its miracle through it all. May you feel that thread of life moving through you. May you find your centre. May you give yourself permission to come home to your life, to your body, to your heart. May you discover that peace and healing and strength aren’t waiting for you on some holy hill, at a church altar, inside the words in the mouth of a celebrity pastor or church leader, but that they are here, with you, in you, even in this, even as you are, of course, as you are.
Your trouble is holy. Your pain is sacred. As in, it’s not that your pain was approved of and sanctioned by God to teach you something, no. Rather your pain isn’t a place that banishes holiness, that can’t be as sacred as the blissful places, that God isn’t in with you. You are not being punished. You are not being tested. You are a human experiencing a life; pain is a part of it. You are not being punished. You are not being tested. This isn’t a lesson. It is a part of the whole. And it is holy.
It should not be trivialised or glamorised. Your trouble is not to be used as a trophy or an anchor, by yourself, by others, or by your religion. Richard Rohr said: “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. By trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medication, or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious: we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us in deep and mysterious ways that ironically become the very matrix of life. Suffering- and sometimes awe- has the most power to lead us into genuinely new experiences. In this way, the very worst things have the power to become the very best things. Henceforth, nothing can be a dead end; everything is capable of new meaning.”
Only when we hold our pain with grace and sacredness, can we facilitate healing to enter into it. Pain that is glamorised or trivialised is pain that is held onto and perpetuated. Paulo Coelho said: “What hurts us is what heals us.” Rumi said “The cure for the pain is in the pain.” In the book of Exodus, a bush was on fire but it was not consumed. From it came the voice and essence of the Divine and from that voice came direction and purpose, a path and a plan.
Your pain is not something to be ashamed of, ignored, shoved away, covered over by anything that will numb it for a while. Your pain is not some test or judgement or punishment sent by God in response to your living and being. Your pain is not an indictment on who you are and the decisions you’ve made. Your pain is part of what makes you human. Embrace it. Even learn to love it, or maybe a better way to say that is, love yourself in it. Love it in such a way that it opens and warms and is nourished and heals. Follow your pain all the way through to newness and healing.
Your trouble is a sacred and holy vehicle on your way to growth and wholeness. The Christian tradition is centred around a moment of pain: Jesus, bleeding to death, violently executed by a foreign military superpower, falsely accused and convicted, betrayed. All the pain and in all the ways centralised in the person many call Saviour.
As he was dying, Jesus said: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” To the afflicted, abandoned, shamed, abused, heartbroken, diseased; to the sinner, to the abuser, to those filled with hate and greed, to those weighed down with worry and fear, to those poisoned and shackled by their situations and choices; to those who have felt the darkness of loneliness and hopelessness; for all the suffering of those before him and those yet to be, Jesus was saying, “Me too…”
He made it holy, seen, known, precious, held, carried, witnessed. And as with any pain that is held with holiness, it took Jesus somewhere new… that’s the path; that’s the way. All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. Ground yours in holiness.
Words of health and healing from Liz Melani, The Practice Co- This weekly series is called Ground Yourself in Holiness and How to be Grounded.
Mindful Prompt: What pain are you in? Is it physical? Emotional? Hold it in your heart, and focus all your love and grace and compassion on it. Make it holy. Practice doing so, and you’ll find that your relationship with pain will begin to bring you new life.
Mindful Prompt: In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, “Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way; once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are and how near God can be when you have lost your way.”