Finding The Lost Key
Fr. Thomas Keating once wrote an essay on a parable he'd heard about a Sufi master who lost the key to his house and was found by his students looking for it outside.
"Where did you lose the key, Master?" one of the students asked. "Inside the house, of course," the Master replied. "Then why are you searching for it out here?" another student queried. "Isn't it obvious?" the Master shot back. "There's more light out here."
If you think this parable sounds more like a joke, you would be right. But it's a joke with a deep meaning that speaks to the way that most of us search for happiness, fulfillment, and even connection with God.
The house can stand for a lot of different things, I suppose, but for me, it represents "home," whatever home might mean for us at the moment. Sometimes, home can be our own soul, our very being. It can also be our community of faith.
The point is, we often lose the key to our happiness within the very place we ought to be looking for it, but instead, we tend to try to find it everywhere else, and often to our own detriment.
For the sake of today's Devo, let's assume that we most often lose the key within ourselves. It's easy to do, quite honestly. The cares of life, the challenges we face, the griefs we endure all can obscure our vision and prohibit us from finding what we've lost.
And so we decide to go search for the key where we think the light is better, which almost always tends to be everywhere else but where we lost it in the first place.
We've all gone down that path at one point in time or another, and while it might lead us to things that help us forget what we've lost for a while, those things we find are not the key itself. In fact, nothing is like the key itself.
It takes deep self-examination, honesty, courage, and strength to go back into the house and search. It takes some effort, and maybe a lot of it to do the work to discover the key that was within us all along.
In order to make this happen, we need to let go of our fear about what we might have to face in the shadowy corners of our house. We also might not know how to shine enough light to see more clearly, or we feel shame about what the light will uncover.
Whatever it takes, we have to go back into the house and look for the key where we lost it. We must take heed of the words of Jesus who exhorted his followers to "Seek... knock... ask... and you will find..."
Maybe you've been searching for the key to your happiness for a very long time in all of the wrong places.
Perhaps it's time to change the location of your search. Turn your search inward. Spend time in prayer, and reflection. Journal about what you are discovering if that helps. Find a trusted adviser, counselor, or guide who will help you shine some light in your darkness.
In time, if you are persistent and you refuse to waver, you will find the key right where you left it. May it be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.