Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are.
BARBARA BROWN TAYLOR
The trail was listed as 2 miles. But it felt much longer.
In one of the last remaining virgin forests in North Carolina—the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest—the view was grand.
But the terrain was touchy. You had to go slow. Not only because of the incline, but because of tree roots and rocks and stumps.
You had to pay attention to where each foot landed.
You had to notice.
You had to stay grounded.
It’s a spiritual discipline to stay grounded. To remember how to walk on the earth as we live in the Kingdom.
To remember that where we are now may be just where we need to be. In this moment is where I AM resides.
Sometimes we do not know what we know until it comes to us through the soles of our feet, the embrace of a tender lover, or the kindness of a stranger.
Touching the truth with our minds alone is not enough.
We are made to touch it with our bodies.
Back home, the walk is easier. I leave my shoes unlaced in the closet. I walk barefoot outside, stepping quickly over the hot pavement to cool my toes in the grass. Ever watchful for thorny weeds or ant resorts, I still enjoy the sensation of nothing under my feet but earth.
It’s when feet are uncovered they’re most aware of the ground.
To go barefoot is to live raw.
To notice each step.
To track the refined nuances of pain and pleasure.
To watch for prints of the One already rounding the earth so you can match his stride and pace your journey to his walking speed, slow enough to pay attention but fast enough to keep moving.
So I walk.
With shoes off. On holy ground. Here and now.
When we stepped off the mountain trail after the supposed two miles had ended, our feet were tired.
But our souls were grounded.
* * *
What holy ground have you stepped on lately?
The spiritual discipline I’m practicing in June is “The practice of walking on the earth: Groundedness.”
- May 2013: The practice of physical labor
- April 2013: The practice of saying no
- March 2013: The practice of wearing skin
- February 2013: The practice of slowing down
- January 2013: The practice of waking up to God