“I can’t,” she said. “It’s just not the way the world works, or, at any rate, it’s not the way my world works.”
“Try again,” her teacher said. “But this time, don’t ‘try’; just do it.”
Kerry closed her eyes, took some deep breaths, and relaxed her muscles. She thought about roots coming out of the soles of her feet and running into the ground — no, wait. Should she see them going through the floor first, and then into the ground? Or just ignore the floor? Because she couldn’t; she couldn’t just ignore the fact that there was a floor between her and the soil.
Another few deep breaths. Loosened muscles, especially in her shoulders. Roots, big gnarly ones, like the ones her volunteer crew dug up last year when they were eradicating Japanese knotweed from the creek banks. Kerry tried to envision those roots moving through Joanne’s floorboards, into the foundation, and entering the dirt. The dirt was mostly clay, wet from the recent rains. Her roots pushed into the dirt a foot or two and then her nose itched. She stopped to scratch it.
“I’ve lost it again,” she said. “For a minute, it was almost working, but before I could get to the ‘warm center of the Earth,’ I lost my concentration. Have you ever had anyone who simply couldn’t learn how to ground?” Kerry was genuinely concerned. Ever since she’d read about modern Witchcraft, she’d wanted to learn everything there was to learn about it. She didn’t feel as if she’d converted to Witchcraft; she felt as if she’d come into an inheritance that had been hers all along. But all the books and all the websites said the first step was learning to “ground and center.” And despite her best efforts, Kerry seemed to have stalled at “ground.”
Joanne laughed. “You’ll get this. You’ve made progress today. Let’s end here and have a cup of tea. Practice every morning and we’ll see where you are next week.”
Kerry took the bus to the Y. It was on the way home from Joanne’s house and Kerry figured she might as well get a swim in before heading home to laundry and cleaning the litter box. There was only one other person at the pool; an old man Kerry’s seen several times before. He was finishing up his last lap as Kerry dived in. “It’s warm today,” he said as she surfaced.
“Feels wonderful,” she replied.
After he left, Kerry swam a few dozen laps, letting the water and the repitition wash everything from her mind. Swimming always helped her to leave the day behind. The argument with her co-worker over switched schedules, the doctor’s bill for Emma that was larger than expected, the funny noise the dishwasher had been making — whether she was envisioning the right kind of roots.
A few more laps and she could feel herself becoming one with the water. It had always been like this, ever since she was a little girl splashing in the wading pool out on the patio. She knew, at some cellular level of knowing, that her body was mostly made of water. She could feel the water surrounding and supporting her. She could feel herself responding to it and it responding to her. Gradually, she stopped swimming laps and just floated in the warm water, at peace and alive. She’d always played this game, even as a very young child: she imagined that she was expanding into the water. She could sense the edges of the pool, the lights just under the water level, her own loose body floating and bobbing along with no control. She held it for as long as she could and, as always, at some point, the water gently sent her back into herself.
She climbed out of the pool relaxed and refreshed. “I wonder,” she thought, as she boarded the bus home and scratched her nose again, “if I’ll ever be able to ground.”
Picture found here.