Growing up in California in the 1970’s, I remember being intrigued that the parents of my best friend, Cari, had a waterbed. I can remember the very odd feeling of flopping on it and waves continuing to roll for quite a few seconds afterwards. It was strangely un-solid for a piece of household furniture.

Life sometimes feels a bit wobbly as if we’re trying to stand on a waterbed. I’ve been thinking about this because I went to a conference last week that was about trying, in this complex world, to find balance. There were some brilliant talks and I took lots of notes but the simple word that kept coming back to me was ‘ground’.

Ground isn’t something that I normally notice. I’m usually focussed on where I’m going, and, with shoes on, it doesn’t really matter too much what I’m walking over. But where would we be without something solid and unchanging beneath our feet, and gravity to keep us there? (Well, maybe I should say usually solid and unchanging, I grew up in California so I know what earthquakes feel like.)

Sometimes people have suggested, when praying, to plant your feet firmly on the ground, to be aware of its support and to pray from the ground of your being. I’ve heard that the root of the word ‘humility’ is to do with being rooted to the earth and so there is a sense of being aware of how connected we are to God’s creation.

Modern life can be complex and chaotic. How can we hold our ground enough to help turn the chaos into something creative? It’s interesting that in the stories we have about Jesus in the Bible, that it is often the most unbalanced people who seem to recognise who Jesus is, the grounding that he offers them.

The photo at the top was taken of my nephew after he was involved in a crash very near the finish line of a cycle race, with his dad, my brother, walking beside him. It speaks to me powerfully of a God who comes alongside us when life unbalances us, holding us up, showing us love. In these summer months, I’m going to try to pay more attention to the ground beneath my feet and the one who walks beside me.

RA conference