A key is not just a thing: It's also a powerful metaphor. We speak of the "key to the problem," or "the key to understanding," and that finding such keys will help us "unlock" solutions. We may even forget that we're using a metaphor because it fits so well. Why? Let's try to unlock this metaphor.

Reference to a key implies recognition of a barrier. A door, a box, a closet is locked shut. Fairy tales are filled with these, and so, in a sense, is life. We can't resolve the mounting tension between a parent and a child. We are baffled by a computer problem. Relations between two countries continuously deteriorate. The way out of such problems, be they trivial or global, seems blocked. All that keeps us going is the faith that somehow, somewhere must lie a solution. This is like a locked door, not an impenetrable wall, and it can be opened if we find the key. . . .

Perhaps [the] key [is] small as a moment of kindness. A word of forgiveness. An admission of wrongdoing. An inspiration. A chance encounter. A heartfelt prayer. And lo, the mighty door [swings] open.

Never despair, in life, or in prayer. The forces that block and trouble us are mighty as a fortress. By comparison, the forces of salvation seem small. And so they are — but they are small like a key.

What problems or barriers do you currently face that need to be "unlocked?" Imagine that where there is a block there is also a key. Allow your intuitive mind to suggest possibilities for what that key might be.

Drew Leder in Sparks of the Divine