There was once a pastor who removed her shoes before preaching at our Lutheran church. She said it made her feel grounded. Quirky, maybe. Certainly not theologically offensive. That people who attest “for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19) would object surprised me. I don’t know. Maybe they were afraid that she had athlete’s foot.
Norwegian composer Ola Gjielo offers a piece called “The Ground” as part of his Sunrise Mass (2008) for choir and string orchestra. The Latin would be familiar to pre-1965 Catholics, the English familiar to regular churchgoers. Gjielo composed this piece specifically to use within or without the mass. It is a stunning choral work to which I turn when I want to feel grounded.
I prefer the Latin text to the English. The Latin highlights the structure of the music which opens the portal to the divine, of which I write in other essays. The soaring melody, lush harmony, and simple but intricate accompaniment create space in which to see God.
Grounding is a popular concept in times of chaos. The instability of the major institutions of government/economy, health, religion, and education shakes the ground underneath all of us. We need to grab hold of something solid, be it friendship, God, family. The music gives me a few minutes in which my soul relaxes into the divine. Even with my shoes on.