The Lost Keys
There’s more to life than we know. More to an education than we know. More to prayer than we can imagine.
I lost my keys.
We have backup keys, it was late, and I was tired. So I stood silent against the stir of the new year. I did not look for my keys, knowing I’d look in earnest the next morning. They had to be close by. That was my plan.
Morning came and I watched the fog bunch up between the mountain and the river, but my mind went elsewhere. To my keys strung together, forming a chain—bank key, house key, car keys, a relative’s house key. Usually in my hand or on the kitchen counter. The chain holds the keys to my everyday life.
Now they were hiding, like the folded arms of mountains in fog. First, I retraced my steps of what I’d done, where I’d been. I came up empty.
When I told family I’d lost them, my granddaughter said, “Mamaw, your keys don’t like you.”
A little later my son asked, “Did you retrace your steps? Bet you’ll find ’em when you aren’t looking for them.” I thought that was probably true, but I needed them this week.
As an adult, I knew the panic of losing a wallet and keys. I’d lost keys before. As a teen, I’d lost eyeglasses, contacts, rings, money, books, lipstick. I always felt helpless.
Same old feeling on your average January day—winter grays and browns, spent grass. Noticed such things as I walked back and forth doing laundry, praying off and on for eyes to stay open to keys. In fact, that was one of the first things I did. I prayed.
But no keys. No clues. What more could I do?
Five hours ticked and tocked away as I looked under furniture, under porches, behind tables and books. I thoroughly went through the trash bags. I even looked inside pockets of coats I’d not worn in a week!
My wits' end was getting closer. Nowhere near neutral.
I gave up. Surrendered.
I called my husband and asked him to pray for me. “I mean it. I can’t keep looking. I’m exhausted and feel like I’m on the verge of crying.”
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s pray together right now.” He prayed a short but targeted prayer over the phone, asking God to help me recall something about where the keys might be.
I took a deep sigh, said thanks, and clicked off the phone. Suddenly, I felt like someone else had come alongside me in this horrible scavenger hunt. Still no clues, you understand, but I was not alone. I felt some kind of connection.
I lifted the last of my sheets and towels and carried them over to the laundry room beside the shop, scanning the ground as I walked like a crow looking for its next morsel.
While unloading and reloading the washer, I remembered picking up decorations from the front porch and putting them in a box. Later, I’d asked the two grandsons to take a tote and the box upstairs over the laundry room, to put them with the Christmas decor.
A long shot, but nothing else came to mind.
I climbed the stairs feeling pretty foolish. I felt a longing, but another part of my heart shielded me. How magically we are put together—even my feelings have a hard time settling.
I recognized the tote and opened it: Christmas tree, ornaments, nativity from the living room. Beside it, a sheet-covered wreath on top of a box.
I lifted off the wreath and began removing cloth angels, Joy to the World sign, a cowboy stocking. There they were: shiny keys on top of greenery.
Yes! Yes! Yes! It seemed like someone else’s hand then picked up the keys and jangled them. An answer to the prayer we’d prayed ten minutes before. Watery but happy eyes.
I called my husband. His words, “Well, praise the Lord!”
Those keys. They could have laid in that box, snug as a bug under a stack of Christmas until next December!
Grateful for finding keys and grateful for the connections. I had to lower my pride, I had to ask, I had to pray along with my husband’s words, I had to trust God, and I had to check out a bit of a memory.
It’s a rainy night tonight. Life pulses on. Let’s try to keep connections going, let’s keep looking for the keys to live the best lives we can live.
P.S. Another saga of God working. Thanks for reading, for comments, posts, likes. Grateful.
The lost keys, photographed by Pat Durmon, January 2020.