A few months ago, I was getting ready for bed when I suddenly heard a small suspicious rustling sound in the cupboard over my stove. I pulled over a chair to stand on, opened the cupboard door, and locked eyes with a teeny tiny little field mouse. I looked at her. She looked at me. I closed the door, backed away slowly, and gave Gingersnap a very long lecture on how she is useless as a cat. She’s very pretty, but she’s USELESS. She is a decorative cat. Maybe other people’s cats are FUNCTIONAL cats, but mine is purely DECORATIVE.
Instead of whatever else I might have spent the next day doing, I deep cleaned the heck out of my kitchen, vacuumed the cupboard in question, clorox wiped it thoroughly, stuffed steel wool in the gap around a cord where I assume the mouse got in, and then, just for an extra layer of safety, I placed the cat in the cupboard for a few minutes so that she could shed some fur as a warning that a cat lives here. I don’t know if the fur would do anything if a mouse did happen to get back in, but look, I wasn’t really sure what else to do.
This cupboard has since been renamed “the penthouse mouse house” by friends who are entirely too clever for their own good.
But the next week, I was reading a thriller novel with the cat snuggled up on my lap (she’s good at snuggling; just not mousing), and like, five characters had been murdered, and I was a few chapters away from the end and things were getting really intense…
…and then suddenly I started to hear noises coming from my kitchen.
* scratch scratch scratch *
Admittedly, I was a little on edge because of the scary novel.
I set down my kindle, scooped up the cat, and carried her towards the source of the suspicious noises. Did I really think a six pound cat was going to be much of a defense? Well, no, but gosh darn it, if it WAS a mouse, I was holding her responsible!
The noises stopped once I turned the light on.
I haven’t physically seen a mouse since that first incident in the penthouse mouse house, but I know it’s been around. An individually wrapped chocolate was mauled by tiny teeth, its wrapper shredded into tiny pieces. A tiny footprint was left in a smudge of flour. I don’t leave food out, so I’m not sure why they keep coming out, although I have a theory that it might be going after Gingersnap’s dry food bowl. You would think that she would feel invested if her own food is being stolen, but oh no. Far be it for her to get her pristinely white paws dirty!
I’ve been mumbling and grumbling about “that stupid mouse” for a while now, and plotting how to defeat my new arch-nemesis.
But then I come over to church and stage photo shoots with a mouse toy in a dress, whose adventures I share on our facebook page every Thursday. Church Mouse is a perfectly acceptable mouse. And now here I am, writing an article for The Church Mouse Newsletter.
I suppose, however, that there must be a difference between Church Mouse and the penthouse mouse house mouse. One is a silent toy, who neither eats nor steals nor makes suspicious noises. The other is a living breathing thing whom God created and (for some reason) declared good. Church Mouse is an idea, not a real mouse. I project onto her a whimsical personality in order to highlight things going on around the church building. She can be whatever I want her to be.
It’s a lot easier to deal with ideas rather than actual living beings. Ideas don’t make the same kinds of demands and messes. Living beings have real needs and sometimes it’s uncomfortable for us to make sure those needs are met. Our ideas aren’t always accurate portrayals of reality.
It’s good for us to challenge our ideas by doing research and by interacting with people whose ideas might be different. Sometimes the difference between what we think and what is really true can be quite sizable.
Sometimes the difference is even more uncomfortable than the prospect of deep-cleaning the kitchen yet AGAIN.
shalom and agape,
Rev Leia Rose Battaglia