By Kelly Baker
Faith Columnist 

A Mouse In the House

Not Your Typical Church Lady


There's something soothing about routine. Our cat, Gladys, is the routine queen. Every week day, we wake up at 4:30 a.m. to start the day. That means Monday through Friday, Gladys gets fed at approximately 4:35 a.m. On Saturdays, between 4:30 and 5 a.m., Gladys will jump up on the bed, walk on my pillow, gnaw at my hair and knock things off the night stand in an effort to rouse me from my slumbers so that I'll get up and feed her. Every Saturday when she begins this routine, I gently push her off the bed. She knows I'm going to do this because we've been doing this for 13 years. She jumps down when she feels the push. On Sundays she's a little more relaxed.

After Gladys has been fed, regardless of the day, she usually hops up on my lap, curling up and getting hair in my Bible while I try to read it and drink my coffee.

When I've finished reading the Bible and saying my morning prayers, Gladys usually hops down to go about her day, and I go about mine.

But this morning, Gladys broke routine. She was absent from my lap during Bible and coffee time. Occasionally she does this, especially on days when it's warm and she has no need to feel cozy. I went about my own routine. Prayer time was suddenly interrupted by what I can only describe as the sound of a cat's body sliding into furniture, followed by silence. We've heard this lots of times. It's nothing to get excited about. I closed my eyes and went back to prayer, apologizing for the interruption. Just as I was getting back in the zone, I heard a muffled meow. My eyes opened and there before me was my dear, sweet Gladys with a mouse in her mouth.

In our 13 years together, we've also developed a protocol for this situation. When presented with a mouse, it is my duty, nay, my privilege (from her point of view) to tell her what a great catch she has made. So I did. She was so impressed with my accolades to her that she brought it right over beside my rocking chair for a closer inspection.

"What a nice mouse you caught! Good girl. Should I take that for you?" I asked, knowing the mouse was 100 percent still alive.

This is where things get tricky. We've never perfected the handoff. Sometimes she wants to keep the mouse to play with. Sometimes she wants to keep the mouse and then crunch it up and eat it when I'm not looking. And sometimes she wants me to just take the mouse after chasing her around and cajoling her into giving it to me. I am never sure which avenue we'll be going down.

Today was no exception. I reached down to see which way she wanted to go with it. Today must have been catch-and-release day because she put it down and we both watched as it ran away from us and underneath the floor model stereo and/or piano. We shrugged our shoulders at each other, and I went back to praying. After all, this is a very old house. There will always be mice (not that we want them) and that's why we have a cat (not that she always does a bang-up job.) I am at peace with this. There is nothing we can do to stop them from getting in. Every year we find some. I do have friends who, if they had been sitting in the rocking chair and Gladys has presented them with a mouse that escaped, they would have burnt this house down and moved away by now. Just knowing a mouse is in the house is too much for them. Everyone has a different reaction to mouse awareness.

So here we are, as a nation and a world, with a "mouse in the house" so to speak. It's scaring the pants off some people. Others are completely indifferent to the fact that there is a mouse. They just don't care. Some acknowledge the mouse and are doing their best to trap it and kill it while working to keep it from multiplying into their houses. But this mouse is big and tricky and hard to catch. Now we all know it's in the house and it has completely interrupted everyone's routine.

For those who have been practicing spiritual discipline and training, this is the big test. The whole world is watching to see how we react. They are watching to see who is going to scream and jump up on top of the chair. They are watching to see who takes on a "me-first" persona. (FYI, toilet paper and food hoarding is NOT cool.) They are watching to see if our faith holds water. The example that is set today is going to have a huge impact as we move forward.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18, NIV).

Normally, I like to end with a more light-hearted tone, but there's a time and place for everything and right now is the time to be serious and committed about what we believe. This is not a time to waver, this is not a time to falter. This is a true test. It's alright to feel fear, but it's not alright to let it control you. Stand on a chair if you must. All I ask is that you keep your hysterics to a minimum. Some of us have a mouse to catch.


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