Why is it that we don't get down on our knees much anymore? Sure, we stand, sit, lean, lie and sometimes we even stoop, but rarely do we kneel. Maybe this is because, over the years, kneeling has been rendered obsolete.
It used to be that kneeling often was necessary to get the job done. Take, for instance, scrubbing floors. Years ago, we got down on our hands and knees. Today, with the redeeming qualities of Swiffer picker-uppers, there is precious little prostrating of ourselves, resting all of our weight on boney, arthritic knees.
We don't have to kneel anymore at work, save electricians, construction workers, day care providers, carpet layers, men and women of the cloth. God bless them for the times they have to wrangle, balance, juggle and problem-solve down on their knees at odd angles, all in a day's work.
Some kneel when gardening but wear nifty kneepads or use supportive cushions, but the garden weasel practically has eliminated that.
Back in the day, kneeling to pray was commonplace and kneeling at bedtime was as normal as greeting strangers on the street, which we don't do much of anymore either. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to live in or near a friendly community like Vermillion.
You could say I grew up on my knees. Raised in a devout Catholic family, where kneeling to pray on hardwood floors was a ritual, I became pretty good at it, knowing when to shift my weight to relieve one knee and then the other.
Circa 1960, clustering with nothing but air in front of us to lean on, my parents, siblings and I – eight all-told – prayed for world peace, against Communism, for the Russian people, against the bomb, for starving children in Africa, against disease and so on.
Since then, the only serious kneeling I have done was as a young mother. At times, overcome by the many stressors of raising a family, I'd fall on my knees, my arms draped over the bed, crying my eyes out for strength, wisdom and perseverance.
Nowadays, if people kneel to pray, it's usually not in public. Unless they've been following a young quarterback named Tim Tebow with the Denver Broncos. Throughout and at the end of every Broncos football game, Tim kneels so often his praise-gesture has been coined, "Tebowing."
Over the years, other athletes have pointed arms upward, index fingers extended high above their heads, eyes focused Heavenward. Some bow briefly while acknowledging a higher power, crediting the maker for their unbelievable catches, miraculous throws, nail-biting touchdowns and ultimate wins.
However, Tebow's reverent kneeling is not run-of-the-mill. Appearing heartfelt, he goes down on one knee, head bowed, one hand clutching his helmet, the other with bent elbow resting on his thigh, fist tucked under his chin. Not a quick kneel, not quite genuflect. It's a deliberately long and faith-filled kneel right out in the open, in front of tens of thousands in the stadium and millions more watching on TV.
Tim's Tebowing has set off a viral craze. People all over the world – not all Bronco fans – are Tebowing everywhere: At colleges and high schools, on beaches and ski slopes, in playgrounds and offices. Old ladies with oxygen tanks are Tebowing, as are men on mountains, tourists at the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Babies in strollers and even a polar bear at the Denver zoo are Tebowing.
You could say what Tim Tebow has done for kneeling Albert Einstein did for physics, Marie Curie for human health, Elvis for music and Steve Jobs for computer technology.
I'm thinking about doing a little Tebowing myself. If I could get my husband to clean the toilets or vacuum corners, I'd Tebow.
On second thought, it might be a very long time before I Tebow, too.
2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on FaceBook.