There was a quote popular in the burgeoning spiritual movement of the late sixties that went something like, “Life is a feast and most of you are starving yourselves.” The truth of that resonates still, although a different metaphor comes to me these days. Despite the fact that we are surrounded by immense beauty, unbounded vitality, and profound love, we often sip these delights unaware and through the narrowest of straws.
Here’s how I conceptualize it. Each one of us exists in this world due to the gift of an indefinable energy. This animating force is infused into every cell of our bodies and each smidgeon of our spirits. It is always there, forever available. And yet, this substance that fuels our consciousness is most often hidden from it. Being the stuff of life, it is omnipresent and so, unfortunately, easy to ignore. As we take this immense gift for granted and instead focus our attention elsewhere, we allow the conduit for this life force to become puny, with just enough flow to sustain a meager life. We become stunted, experiencing a mere reflection of the richness we could have, the fullness we could be.
A main task of soulful living is to enlarge the channel. Here arises the image of an ingress for an abundance of that indescribable life energy--a deep, smooth-sided aqueduct. Rather than take the available bounty for granted, we build a channel worthy of such a substance. Rather than be content with a paltry flow, we choose to enlarge our capacity to partake of it.
But, how do we transform a tiny straw into a sturdy waterway? A good question for each of us to which we likely already know the answer. We each have at least an inkling of what brings us that experience of soul. For most of us, the difficulty is not so much in the knowing as in the doing. The trick is to value that intuitive guidance enough to follow it. We may need to override a dismissive tendency, or a belief that we can attend to our soul’s needs only after everything else is done. No, it needs to be a priority if we want to live an authentic life, wide open to the Sacred.
The ways to craft or enlarge our aqueduct will vary, given that we’re each uniquely wired. We may find what we need in the natural world, artistic endeavors, prayer, tending to the needs of others, meditation, church services...the list goes on. However, it is not enough to paint a picture, traverse a path through the deep woods, or sit in silence. One must create a stillness that is receptive to the flow. One must consciously and intentionally open. One must welcome the gift.
Opening is the key. The particular activities that enlarge our aqueduct are simply those things that encourage us, propel us, into openness. The lovely thing about this truth is that everything we do, if approached with a welcoming attitude, can become an avenue for the Sacred. When the Sacred, which is always present, meets our openness to it, which we can cultivate, then things really begin to happen. When that free will of ours is turned toward Spirit, a switch is thrown and a process of transformation is set in motion that seems to expand exponentially.
This metaphor grows stronger for me as I use it in meditation. When my aqueduct is wide open, I am filled with a hearty tide. As I become consumed by some variation of my personality’s minutia, I feel the channel of my consciousness narrow--only to expand again as I recognize the constriction and return to receptive awareness.
This image assists me, too, when my energy wanes during a busy day or when I get unreasonably annoyed or dismayed by life’s not conforming to my expectations. If I can remember then to consciously exchange my unintended straw for an intentional aqueduct, I immediately--after a few deep, soul-filling breaths anyway--feel better. Not totally filled, since I’m still comparatively new at this, but better.
Our part is to create, tend, and nurture the aqueduct, and then welcome the river it carries. The river does the rest. That’s when things start to happen that I can only begin to comprehend--a cleansing, a deepening, a clearing away of negativity accumulated over a lifetime. I suspect it is this internal healing process that accounts for the transformation so many of us experience following a conscious opening to Spirit.
The flow is there; it’s just a matter of how deep, wide, and smooth our channel to receive it...and how welcoming we are of the healing waters that wash through it and into us.
May your channel be deep and wide,