A friend posted a photo of a man walking on the lake bed of Folsom Lake. The dam was in the distance. The water did not even reach the dam. Wow. It was a stark image of this drought. This has been the driest winter I remember in my lifetime. While I do enjoy sunny days lately, they all have a shadow of the incredible need for water we have here in California. The farmers are hurting. The ski towns are hurting. Whether we feel the effects yet personally or not, this is sure to impact everyone at some point.
When things happen in this life (be it hardship or time for celebration) I do something that drives some people crazy: I wonder what the spiritual meaning is. What is there to learn? I step out of myself for a minute and just look at the situation placing relatively low emotional stake in it all.
When I saw this photo I began to contemplate the spiritual significance or lesson. And the first thing that came to my mind was how people can be in spiritual droughts. Perhaps circumstances in their life transpired year after year with little to no acknowledgement to a higher power. And this higher power does not have to be a religious thing for those of you who don’t identify with any deities or spiritual figures. The higher power can be as simple as connection (such as with the other people in our lives). Or it can be as necessary as gratitude (for what you have). When each moment just rolls into the next and we don’t take a pause to be present, we drain our spiritual reserves. Eventually it just dries up and we walk heartlessly through our lives. And as painful as an actual water drought is, it is not as painful as how a spiritual drought silently takes over one's life. The good news is that even when your spiritual reservoir runs dry it is still possible for it to fill back up again. I saw evidence for this last week as demonstrated in this short little story.
I was at a course last week for my job. The majority of the students in the course were male and military members. Two qualities that from my experience do not generally yield particularly spiritually active individuals. All of the instructors were also male military members. The course was even on a military installation. The course itself was wonderful and the instructors were engaging and positive figures. The course was about resilience, overcoming challenges and seeking the positive in life. Through out the duration of the week we often were expected to share personal experiences for the purpose of the lesson and exercises. some of these personal experiences were challenges, other were what we called “good stuff”. I was struck by how it seemed that some people struggled with finding the “good stuff” in their lives. Even when they talked about their “good stuff” it felt like they were stretching their own definition of what is good. I believe it felt this way because of how they spoke and carried themselves while sharing. Anyhow, as the course went on these same people seemed to open up. They had more excitement when sharing and discussing either “good stuff” or conflict resolution. Their eyes began to light up in a way I had not seen earlier in the week. I believe this shift happened in part because they had been surrounded by these lessons, positive people, and enthusiastic instructors all week. Whatever was missing in their eyes and voices earlier in the week had begun to come back. Their reserves were filling back up again.
How to Keep Your Reservoir Full
Whether your lake is in a drought or it is overflowing, here are some helpful tools to make sure that you stay in continuous supply of spiritual awareness:
- Take a moment (regularly) to simply recognize your surroundings: the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings.
- Process the lessons from your challenges - reflect
- Show gratitude for what you have been given: be it food, sunshine, a gift from a friend...
- Set intentions to help make the next moment fulfilling. Intend to have a positive attitude, to do something you enjoy, to complete a task.
We go through experiences in life to learn something. Things don’t just happen. And as most of us know by now, life is not always fair. Pain and suffering exist. But so does joy and abundance. As we go about our lives and pray for a downpour be it a spiritual one or a literal downpour of snow and rain consider this: The inner creates the outer. What we have going on within us is bound to show up outside of us. Our outer lives are intricately intertwined and even reflections of our inner makings. Not limited to our own individual inner makings, but the inner makings of every soul being.
I am not claiming that if people would just start to be more spiritually aware then we would not have this drought. But I am suggesting that it is worth looking for a lesson. If not to provide yourself with some peace of mind and soulful understanding, then perhaps it will take your mind off of the crisis for just a few moments.