Grounded in Gratitude


           “Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.”—Steve Goodier



           “But it turns out that people who are grounded and secure don’t change much under stress.  That’s what being grounded means.”—Michael Gruber




“You need grounded,” Amy Vanhorn said to my daughter, Madelyn.  “Get outside. Go barefooted.  Get grounded.”




My husband, John, and I had left immediately on a Friday at the end of our school day at St. Joseph Catholic School, where we both work, in order to make the four-hour drive to Bethany College where Madelyn is attending.  It was Dad’s weekend for our daughter’s sorority, Alpha Xi Delta.  However, Maddie and John had both insisted that I also tag along, and make it a family visit.




Amy VanHorn, and her husband, Keith, had invited us to stay at their home, which is less than a five-minute drive from Bethany.  Amy’s daughter, Eden, is a friend of Maddie and also in the same sorority.  We gratefully accepted this invitation to save the trips and time driving up and down the mountainous, curvy, and car-sickness inducing roads traveling to and from the nearest hotel in Wheeling, WV about 30 minutes away from Bethany.




The week had been exhausting.  John and I are finding that while we still love working during our 5thdecade of life, it seems we are never able to get enough rest.  Our recovery time isn’t what it used to be, and although we still get around six to six and half hours of sleep at night—which used to be plenty in our thirties and forties—it is no longer enough.  Still, we keep pushing through fatigue and forging ahead, ever grateful for our jobs.  Furthermore, that Friday had been filled with Halloween celebrations at our school.  Students were amped, and a large portion of the day was filled with the typically loud, stimulating celebrations that go hand-in-hand with the spirit of the holiday.

Personally, I emotionally struggle with Halloween. I find our society’s obsession with the holiday upside down.  I know, I know, it’s all about fun and frivolity, making me sound like a grumpy old lady. To be certain, I certainly enjoyed the holiday as a young child, but once I hit seventh grade, it was no longer an important event in my life.  However, this holiday has since developed into a multi-million dollar industry with all ages celebrating it for days on end.  Thus, when I look at all the millions of dollars and countless hours spent on candy, costumes, as well as decorations, and when I think of all the other beneficial ways the money and our collective focus could be used, it leaves me feeling not only a bit icky, but conflicted and out-of-sorts.  Therefore, this only added to my level of energy drain.



Upon arriving at Bethany, we stopped by Maddie’s dorm to pick her up before heading to the VanHorn home.  She would be joining us for dinner.  Amy had suggested that we go to Dovetail Fire and Ale in nearby Wellsburg, WV, a local, family-owned and operated restaurant. (Which, by the way, John and I highly recommend!)




“We love to cook, but not on Fridays, especially after an exhausting week like this past one,” Amy explained.




We completely understood, and after hugs, greetings, and an exchange of a few pleasantries, we all hopped in Keith’s new, roomy truck and headed to the restaurant around 8:00 pm.  The restaurant’s atmosphere was comfortable and casual allowing all of us to relax our tired bodies and enjoy each other’s company.


It was during the early minutes of our conversation that Amy began advising Maddie to ground herself outside regularly to fight the stress and anxiety of college life.  I found myself agreeing as my mind drifted to earlier in the week . . .





It was moments before the sun began to rise; the sky had blossomed with a harvest full of fruit colors:  cantaloupes, peaches, and rosy, pink apples. The inky black outlines of the graceful willows in our yard were in the foreground of these expanding colors as birdsong filled in the background.  I stood mesmerized in the open-door area of the garage holding my bags for school.  I breathed in the chill of the crisp air, both of my feet planted firmly on the concrete.  My heart yearned for more time.  Time to watch, time to breathe this moment into my body, time to fully feel all the gratitude of this heavenly touch at the start of my day.  Yet time tick-tocked onward, and I needed to move if I was to make it to school on time.  Thus, the sands of my hourglass slipped through this holy moment, not allowing it to be savored in a manner it so rightly deserved.  I took one more deep breath, drank in the lovely peacefulness, and packed my wares into my vehicle, making my way to school as the moment continued on without my presence.



Amy was right; not only for Maddie, but also for me.  I need grounded. We all benefit from time spent out of doors, but especially me.  My soul, my heart, my spirit needs it, and I have not been making time for it. God is there in nature, whispering soft words of love, understanding, and healing while painting seasonal images of Divine magnificence.




As I awoke Saturday morning, I soaked up all the “grounding” opportunities I could find.  I walked around the VanHorn property listening to the birds, their rooster, the snufflings of their horses, the cluckings of their chickens, and the pitter-patter of a cool, autumn rain.  Later, John and I drank-in the wonder of our daughter and her gentle friend, Ben, as we walked through the continual mist, across Bethany campus, listening to the swishing sounds of our feet traipsing over damp yellow, brown, and red leaves.  Then, we warmed up with coffee made with love by Ms. Linda, campus mom to many, at The Hub, Bethany’s coffee shop.



Afterwards, we parted ways with Ben, and Maddie blessed us with time alone with her as she gave us a personal tour of her daily haunts.  From the Robert Richardson Hall of Science, where Maddie currently takes three different science courses, to the Office of the University President where Maddie works several days per week; and on to the Art Building, where Maddie’s eyes twinkled as she shared several works of her own design as well as works of other students and professors.  I bathed in the gift of each moment.





Finally, we made the journey towards stadium and the tailgating event hosted by her sorority.  The fall air continued to kiss our cheeks, the light rain incessantly baptized us, and joy of time spent with someone you love enveloped us with warmth in spite of the chilly, damp air.


Sounds of music and laughter offered a new backdrop.

Silly smiles. Serious smiles.

Poses held for photographic memoirs.

Sweet, sweet, time.

Grateful heart, overflowing with love and pride.

God’s goodness all around.

Centered by family love.

Surrounded by a Divine embrace.



Blessing abound.

Grounded in the gift of the moment.




P.S.  Thank you, Keith and Amy VanHorn, for taking time from your busy schedules to assist in this much-needed moment.  (I wish I would have thought to have taken your picture while I was there!)

MUCH love and appreciation to our beautiful daughter, Madelyn, for taking time away from her social obligations and course studies to be present with Mom and Dad for a few hours.

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