Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who's On Our Roof?

Sunday morning, and I breathed into the quiet of the day. Ah, no trucks rumbling past the house, and no roofs being reshingled. Early this spring our neighborhood was bombarded with hail, and now roofing company signs seem to be multplying like weeds on every block. Including ours. For two days last week, we had men on our roof.

I took pictures off the second floor walls, pulled the shades, and left the house for as long as I could. Not only was the sound, the ripping and the pounding, intense, but seeing a circus act on our steep, multi-level roof made me queasy. I like my feet on the ground, thank you very much.

When I was in a Tai Chi meditation group, the leader always positioned me across from her in our circle because she said I was so grounded. In the opening pose we stood with our feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent--mountain space. Many things happen to mountains--rock slides and snow slides and volcanos, a special breed of mountain, can blow their tops, but how often does a mountain fall over or drift away?

The trick to being grounded and steadfast, it seems to me, is to know what grounds you, what keeps you from floating away like the fluff from the cottonwood trees. What keeps you from falling off the roof? Being grounded can sustain you in shaky times, uncertain times, times when you have no choice but to relinquish control. No doubt, we will face such shaky times as we get older, and being grounded can serve us well. The year I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and my mother was dying of colon cancer, I didn't always have the physical or emotional stamina to write in my journal, the spiritual practice that has grounded me most consistently over the years, but knowing my journals were just off stage, sustained and grounded me. I wrote details in my head, made notes in my heart about those last days of my mother's life. I observed and I willed myself to remember. I was present.

However, being grounded has its shadow side --being stuck.  I know when I write in my journal about the same thing over and over and over and over again and when, rereading those many entries, I see no change, no surrender, no forgiveness or intention to forgive, no new thoughts, no acceptance, I'm stuck. Big time stuckness! When are you unable to move or imagine another way? When does being grounded translate into stubborness, limiting you to one way or the high way, instead of a range of possibilities? When does being steadfast no longer serve you? When does the ground become quicksand sucking the energy out of you?

A spiritual practice done frequently and intentionally, such as writing in your journal, walking a labyrinth, meditating, whatever you choose, is both a way to stay grounded and to clarify what grounds you and leads  you closer to the person you were created to be. A spiritual practice can also be the tool to help you recognize when you are more stuck than grounded. 

Spiritual refreshments are sometimes just outside our windows. Or on our roofs. Roofing is hard work, dangerous work, and I am grateful this job was completed safely. Watching the crew moving agily, confidently across the roof, reminded me that I can stay grounded, but I don't have to be stuck in one place or in one way of thinking or responding or being. Like the roofers, I can touch the sky.


1 comment:

  1. Lovely. I too wonder why I don't blow away some days, especially as I get older and traditional touchstones don't work. I find then I can just look around at other people and think, "They're all dealing with this too. I am not alone." That togetherness feeling grounds me.

    I get stuck with my self-definition at times. I am: scattered. I am: unable to load the dishwasher well. I am: not good at singing.

    In journaling, I get stuck all the time. I keep telling myself to work on certain things. Then I never do. Hmm.