I found these keys at Altar'd State in Tuscaloosa in a last minute Christmas shopping spree in 2012. I thought they were charming, nostalgic, antique-ish, and would one day be the perfect token when most needed for someone close.
I've gifted two giving keys in 2013, both for a meaningful purpose and both with much anticipated positive reception and results.
The first went to my dear friend Sid. He, a very talented chef, worked with us and held an amazing future with a fast growing company. When his wife's condition worsened he wrestled with the decision to leave and return to Ouray, Colorado, a town with a population of merely 813. Torn between his passion for culinary creativity, his role with the restaurant concept, friends, and his love and caring for his wife, as well as the ability to support her, he made the difficult decision.
Before Sid and Kelly left for Colorado, with no home or rental to arrive to, no job lined up to work at, no plan and barely enough money to get there, I gave him a rustic key with "Faith" inscribed on it.
I looked him in the eye and placed my hand on his chest and told him to have faith, that his path is laid out, to put his faith in the hands of the Lord, and trust all will be well in the face of this difficult and uncertain decision to walk down a path unknown. Have faith, hold hope, pray, have strength and determination for Kelly, she will improve and everything will unfold in a positive manner, perhaps more than, and in some respects, different than expected or hoped for.
Sid's posture brightened, his eyes were filled with hope and surprise at this unexpected gift and he was overwhelmed with thankfulness and felt as if he did not now share this burden alone.
Shortly after arriving in Ouray, a home opened to them for a temporary stay. Afterwards they were introduced to a business opportunity. The town rallied behind them and provided them with a restaurant space, friends and family chipped in to support and assist in purchasing equipment and supplies, and today they own and operate a successful cafe, "Cavallos." Kelly is now healthy, vibrant, and happy. Sid is in the kitchen doing what he does best and they now have a home, along with stronger faith than before.
The second key was given to Troy, a Corp. Trainer of mine on Thanksgiving. I stopped to visit with him and his family. I asked him to walk me to my car, where I turned, gave him a key inscribed with "Hope" and said, "Hold on to hope. Don't despair, or give up on what will be a positive turn of events for you. Find your faith, turn to your loved ones, know your friends are here with you, and think positively through this. You will pull through and someday soon shake your head in disbelief with a smile thinking, 'I can't believe I really went through that and made it out okay.' Be hopeful for what tomorrow holds, what the Lord can do, and for your strength to recover. Be hopeful for your family supporting you, that they can be strong through this time that will pass. Hold on to hope."
I was met with surprise and appreciation, but the expression still seemed uncertain.
Troy kept the key in his pocket everyday, everywhere, and held on to it in the most difficult times, times when he didn't think he would make it through, times when he said the key was the only thing he had to provide hope and carry him through.
Troy saw white lights on his 6 hour ambulance drive to UAB. He is now off anti-seizure medication, back at work, and has learned from his most recent MRI that his bacterial brain infection has reduced by 50% and all indications are for a full, nonsurgical recovery. He still holds the key in his pocket and has not been able to stop expressing his gratitude.
I now have a key for me, "Strength." Something I need in the days ahead. Internal strength, mental strength, strength in faith and in growth, strength to let go, strength to love, strength to find me. Someday I will pass the key like a torch, with a message to help someone in need.