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Lost Keys and Lost Illusions

An excerpt from 'Liturgy of the Ordinary,' CT's 2018 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year.
Lost Keys and Lost Illusions
Image: Kari Shea / Unsplash

I have a plan for my morning—run by the store to pick up a side for dinner and some dish soap, then head to a meeting. So after I brush my teeth and help Jonathan get the kids off to their activities, I get dressed quickly and eat breakfast. I throw on my favorite corduroy coat, hoist my computer bag over my shoulder, and head toward the door. I go to grab the car keys on the entry table that we bought (and painted robin’s egg blue) for the express purpose of having a spot for keys. Next to the jar of dried lavender and stack of mail are two key rings that hold the keys to the car, the house, and our neighbor’s house, as well as a couple others the purpose of which I’ve forgotten (but I keep holding on to them because you never know).

Cue the sound of screeching brakes. The keys aren’t there.

I check the side pocket of my bag, then the pants I wore yesterday, then my bag again. I start to panic a little. I take off my coat. I walk into my kitchen and look on the counter.

I have lost my keys. With them goes all sense of perspective. With them goes my plan; with them goes my cool. These instruments that I use for security and freedom—to lock out bad guys and get where I need to go—have suddenly become a means of imprisonment. I’m stuck.

Where could they be?

I go through my Stages of Searching for Lost Objects:

Stage 1.Logic. I retrace my steps. I look in the places that make sense. I breathe. I try to remain calm and rational: This is not that big of a deal. They’ll turn up.

Stage 2. Self-condemnation. As I make my way through each room, scanning shelves and surfaces, I begin to self-flagellate under my breath: “I’m such an idiot. Where did I put those keys? Why am ...

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