I talked to the clergy in our district at sub-district meetings recently about being grounded: being told to “ground yourself” before prayer by putting feet on the floor, your shoulders back, and expectantly praying. Several of our witty pastors have pointed out to me that “being grounded” was what happened to them by caring parents once upon a time; or it’s something they just had to do to their kids to correct behavior because the pastors are loving folks.
My mother didn’t use the word “grounded,” she did, however, tell me that I had to “hem it in,” a phrase she said she learned from her grandmother who must have been quite a seamstress. You get the idea. When I was hemmed in, I was grounded. Had to stay at home, no TV, had to do work my folks gave me, had to complete homework right then, and a whole lot more I would prefer to forget. To make her point my mom always pointed out that I had hemmed myself in.
Ash Wednesday and the whole season of Lent for me have always been about turning away from the ways I hem myself in, and about thanking God for the ways Jesus frees me despite my predilection to hem myself in so tightly I cannot get myself free.
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” are freeing words. They remind me that despite myself – and because of myself – I am often hemmed in. Those words remind me that when I am indeed hemmed in – trapped – by myself and my sin, I am set free by the redeeming power of Christ and the Cross.
So, in the end, being grounded or hemmed in or mired in sin or just being me, is not a great burden. Being hemmed in is a burden that merited the great redemption of Jesus, a gift beyond measure.
Give thanks for that gift this Lent. Use the means of grace we have to reflect, to remember, and to re-experience that grace for yourself.
Then live: ungrounded, unhemmed. Live forgiven and free.
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