In last week's column I reflected on the common practice of making New Year's resolutions and wrote that I thought that when it comes to making a change in our lives it is just as important to focus on the why as on the what. For individuals as well as organizations, change that is significant and lasting needs to be grounded in a deeper sense of purpose and meaning for it to be successful. This is why, for example, anytime an individual or organization evaluates the worthiness of taking on a new initiative, they first run the initiative through the filter of "How does this fit my/our core purpose and identity?"
Ask most teenagers what their associations are to the word grounded and you will most likely hear about rights and privileges being taken away or restricted. Ask most adults what comes to mind when they think about the word grounded and they will likely instead respond by talking about being calm, centered, and a sense of knowing one's purpose and direction in life. It is this latter connotation of grounded that I am referring to when I talk about focusing on why we want to make a change. It is also what author Diane Butler Bass writes about in her new book that is, not coincidentally, titled, Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution.
If you have not made a resolution for the new year, you would be wise to consider making a resolution to read this new book. In religion, as in other fields today, it is common to think of writers as being either conservative or liberal, writing from the left or from the right. The power of a writer like Bass is that she does not fall into these either/or categories. Her writing is deeply faithful and as she states in her title, is advocating for a spiritual revolution for our time. This revolution, which she outlines in this book, is one that locates God not just up in the heavens, but in the very nearness of our lives-in the nearness of nature and in the nearness of our closest relationships. Here is an extended quote from the introduction to this book that captures her thesis, and perhaps will whet your appetite for wanting to read more of this inspiring book:
"This (book) is a report of a sacred revolution as it is occurring and a sustained assertion that this revolution is not nearly as amorphous or disordered as it otherwise might seem. Rather, there is a pattern of God all around us-a deeply spiritual theology that relates to contemporary concerns, provides meaning and hope for the future, and possesses surprisingly rich ties to wisdom from the past.
And this revolution rests upon a single insight: God is the ground, the grounding, that which grounds us. We experience this when we understand that soil is holy, water gives life, the sky opens the imagination, our roots matter, home is a divine place, and our lives are linked with our neighbors' and with those around the globe. This world, not heaven, is the sacred stage of our times."
It goes without saying that I highly recommend this book. Read it and you will most definitely not have an experience of being grounded as being restricted. Instead, your spirituality will be expanded and deepened, and you will indeed find yourself a little more grounded, in the most positive sense of the word.