By Rev. Sheila Graves
These days we have keys to everything! There are keys we call passwords, key codes on products, keys to reading maps, and keys to our house and car. And from time to time we lose our keys! How often do we spend frustrating time and energy searching for the password to our latest electronic toy, or the keys to our ‘material’ lives?
We all know the feeling. We come home tired or distracted, think we drop them on the table or in our pocket, but reach for them when it’s time to leave and our fingers grasp…emptiness. Because we weren’t really paying attention when we let them go from our hand. This is so common that most of us have duplicates, at least to our physical keys, often with bells and whistles to help us find them.
It seems that this experience reflects something that’s unfortunately also common to most of us, and that’s the casualness with which we treat the keys to spiritual awareness. We consciously consider our spiritual beliefs, but after they seem ‘decided,’ we can take for granted our on-going ability to find our way to the Source, and to maintain the ease of that connection. We can take for granted that we always know where we put the keys with which we open to guidance, insight, renewal and reassurance. We forget to pay attention to what’s valuable, and how to access it.
Think back to the mind-and-heart-opening moments you’ve had. What happened to the intensity and intent of your divine discoveries? Did they evolve into a kaleidoscope of spiritual discovery and greater commitment—or just fade in clarity and vibrancy?
We get excited by something…a new strength of connection, or spiritual practice, or transformative moment. We live into it for a while, then slowly, without our noticing, the vibrancy slips away, along with the ease of opening ourselves to it. A little at a time, we’ve stopped being present to, and mindful of, what we care about, and think it will take care of itself.
How does it happen that we come to a place in life and realize we don’t know exactly where we are, where we’re going, or even how to get there…because meaning and practices have lost their spark? We know how we used to engage them, but those keys no longer seem to hold the power they once did, because somewhere along the way the outer stuff we call life took over when we weren’t watching—when we turned away and forgot to turn back.
So the unutterable connection dimmed, weakening the genuine communion with God that unlocked Something Divine in us, and through us. And we don’t know whether that’s because we’ve shifted our understanding, or because we haven’t nurtured our faith enough—haven’t thought it was important enough to keep it alive.
Too easily, we take for granted our beliefs and our way of embodying spiritual awareness. We don’t fully invest ourselves in the Divine Connection—because we think if we just start process it will take care of itself.
But it takes more.
It isn’t enough to clarify our beliefs to ourselves then let them go. They are living forces. They have to be nurtured with felt connection, fed by time and attention, and supported by actions that arise naturally from them. And all of these say to our subconscious, “Pay attention! This is important to me!”
We don’t realize, or forget, that the connection we have to anything important to us takes time, effort, focus, sincerity—and aware use of these precious energies. It’s the same as with relationships. If we want to keep relationships alive and well, it takes time, effort, the complete sharing of who we are…even surrender of some of what we thought was important.
Instead, perhaps we stop maintaining a conscious relationship with our Source. Minds focused elsewhere, we forget the moments, practices or gatherings that feed it.
When we lose our home and car keys we panic, as if we’ve lost our whole world. Imagine what our spirit feels when we can’t find the keys to what brings us strength and direction. When we lose our keys to home, car or office, the solution is inconvenient but relatively simple: we just make a new set. When we lose the keys to our spiritual connection through neglect or carelessness, it’s going to take more than a trip to the hardware store.
So how DO we get them back? For each of us that’s a personal answer. But in a nutshell, we feel our way into meanings, practices and experiences that connect our heart, mind and energy. We define them for ourselves, allowing our spirit its own guidance, because accepting someone else’s keys will only get us into their spiritual consciousness.
Whatever our sense of spiritual connection might be, it could include some of these experiences: peace, sense of safety, feeling and being a compassionate presence, sense of guidance, strength, service, awareness of communion, acceptance of the Presence of God/Source/Force…not only in our life, but in all energies in the world.
And with these, again, individual preference determines which keys appeal to us. But they might include: prayer or meditation, time away from a world that will consume us if we let it, time clarifying and strengthening our spiritual understanding, making choices that are in line with what we believe. And in each of these, making a point of being exquisitely conscious creates new neural pathways that lead to increasing awareness.
As we find the keys again, we need to focus on keeping track of them, establishing habits that bring us back to our spiritual experiences. Habits like checking in regularly on how easily we can connect to our sense of Source…physical reminders that we carry, see or read every day…or joining with others regularly in ways that remind us of who we are and how we can live our spiritual connection in the world.
Whatever they are, we’re always seeking to feel that connection, so completely that we can’t tell if we’re moving into Divine Presence or it’s moving into us. So exquisitely that we live with Its Presence, and it draws us into Communion with everything and everyone around us…restoring our sense of Source being present in our lives.
Whatever these are, they can never be automatic. Even in a sane world, vibrant spirituality must be a conscious choice. In the kind of shifting, crumbling, recreating world we’re in now, seeking a new balance must be both conscious and constant.
So when we feel as if our connection to God, our inner wisdom and our peace are dimming, let us not shrug shoulders, or settle. Let us put our outer world on pause and give our inner spiritual home the same care and attention we give our physical home. Because without keys to the doors of our Souls and our Source, we’re disconnected from our guidance system, drifting away from the only experiences that bring meaning, direction and self-worth to us, and the world.