Friday, March 29, 2019

Getting Grounded: A Meditation

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This week’s topic was inspired by a priest who got me thinking about grounding. And while I'm going to tell you about a priest, this isn't a religious post, but I will touch on some themes of a greater metaphysical nature. 

But let me start with a tiny bit of background, first.

I recently visited my parents for a couple of weeks. When I’m there, I attend their church in the Myrtle Beach Area. I really like their parish. For one thing, people are very nice, and the music is good. For another, the church building itself is giant and beautiful! The outside has a very light, almost Spanish architectural feel to it, with the light stucco exterior and red tile roof. The interior has the traditional cathedral-like layout, basically in the form of a cross, where people can sit on three sides of the altar. There are also balconies on each side, as well.

Here’s a picture I took from the lobby looking in during Christmas 2017 (which doesn’t nearly do it justice, but you can see additional photos on their website).

Taken by Beth Wojiski December 2017
©Beth Wojiski, 2017-2019
Their parish seems different from churches here in the Pittsburgh area, though. The thing I’ve noticed over the years both here and elsewhere is reduced attendance at Mass. Big, beautiful churches are sparsely populated, it seems. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been forced to close churches and schools, combine parishes, and send priests traveling between several churches to say Mass in many different places instead of just serving at one.

Not so at my parents’ church! Not only are they packed to the gills every time I go, but they’ve actually had to add Mass times to the weekend schedule to accommodate the burgeoning need.

Now, this can probably be attributed to a few things, including people leaving communities like Pittsburgh and other cities in order to move to the South in their retirement years. Pittsburgh may be losing attendees while the Myrtle Beach area is gaining them, but they’re the same people. And I will say the majority of the parishioners in my parents’ church do appear to be retirees. But I also see many younger families and people in their twenties, too.

I don’t think that changing population statistics are the only thing to explain the jam-packed attendance at this place. The type of attendance that if you want to go to 5:00 p.m. Mass on a Saturday, well, you’d better get there by 4:15-4:30 to get a parking spot!

No, I think at least some of the draw is the priests who serve there. Their sermons are always entertaining and engaging! They’re great at telling a story, and I always walk out of there smiling.

Let’s take the priest who inspired this post as an example:

He started his homily (this is the Catholic name for “sermon,” by the way) by calling it his “meditation.”

Not his sermon.

His meditation.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
I liked this descriptor. It seems humble, doesn’t it? He wasn't preaching at us. He meditated upon the week’s readings. He had a spiritual message to share. It seemed more of a mystical experience shared in a moment of human-to-human interaction, like you'd go to someone's house and just have a deep conversation. But then he did something incredible:


Right there; right on the steps leading up the altar, he sat down and took off his shoes, then stood up and started speaking while walking around in his stocking feet. He wandered in and out of the pews, making sure he got to all sides of the church, getting up close to people as he spoke. He’d look at someone up in the balcony from time to time and speak directly to them. It was dynamic!

He was having a huge impact. . .and he was just this one, tiny guy in his socks.

Now, before I hear some of you go “Ew!” or “Disrespectful,” hear me out.

He explained that growing up where he did, he didn’t even wear shoes til he was 17. He also talked very earnestly about the importance of taking your shoes off. Of letting your feet touch the ground. About being in physical communication with the earth. I’m totally paraphrasing, here, but he basically said to touch the earth with your feet and understand how beautiful and connected it all is. How connected we all are! He then continued his sermon about serving in any way you can and how every single person has something to share with the world, no matter their stature, age, means, or anything else.

Guys, this priest basically just taught us the principles of grounding, humility and service right there in a packed church at about 5:30 on a Saturday night, and I don’t know if anyone else thought it was weird that he was in his socks grounding the whole time, but for me, well, I couldn’t stop smiling. In my 47 years and growing up Catholic, I have NEVER seen this in a Catholic church before, but I liked it!

We all know about how lightning will travel to the ground, essentially connecting heavens to earth. Well, take that idea and apply it to a more metaphysical level: grounding is when you connect with the earth through your feet and let that connection calm you, center you, and give you a feeling of stability. Some people believe it creates a connection between heaven and earth, through you. Now if you’re religious at all, you can translate that much in the way that I think the priest was trying to tell us: we are all pieces of the larger picture, each of us has our connection to each other, the earth, and God. He even created a hashtag for his homily, guys. (#777HereIAm). He was 100% engaged and connected.

Photo by Justin Groep on Unsplash
Now this isn't a religious blog, but the greater messaging was not lost on me. There is a spiritual connection between us all, and sometimes we lose it. We're tired, distracted, overwhelmed, and overworked. All of these things can make us feel negative.

So how do we regain that sense of connectedness and get positive again?

Well, we can start by taking off our shoes.

Have you ever felt warm sand between your toes at the ocean? Or cool blades of grass as you wandered barefoot in your backyard? How did it feel?

Doesn't it feel good to feel the earth with your feet?

Next time you’re feeling stressed, disconnected, frazzled: try it. Kick off those shoes, roll those socks off, and let those little piddies feel the earth, or the sand, or the grass, or the dirt, or the ocean. As you do, let the stresses fade away. Settle yourself down outside and take 5 minutes to JUST BE. Breathe in and out slowly and let your body’s natural rhythm take over, instead of letting anything or anyone else (boss, family, your to-do list) set your pace. JUST BREATHE. As you take those 5 minutes, let any thoughts just pass on through. You don’t need to shove them away, but just acknowledge them, say hi, and let them pass on by.

This in and of itself should be a start to help you disrupt any negativity you may be feeling today or any other day. In addition, there’s something very humbling about taking off your shoes. You are no longer defined or constrained by what you have. It is just you, connecting your humble self to the earth, while the earth is connected to the rest of the world.

You are literally free to just be you.

You may be but one small part of the infinitesimal, brilliant universe, but your connection to everything and everyone around you is important. By grounding yourself, you help bring peace to your own life, and by extension, to those around you.

To me, that thought is both humbling and awe-inspiring. The act of grounding is, on its own, a simple, positive act of service.

I hope it’s given you some things to think about as you go into the next week.

Peace be with you... 💛🐝

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

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