I was up at 6 a.m. this morning—a Sunday morning—and I asked my husband if he’d be okay studying for his lesson upstairs while I watched an episode of something (volume up) and ran on the treadmill in the basement. He said “Oh yeah…It won’t bother me. I’m just going to be preaching up here. Go ahead.” That’s his usual mode on Sunday mornings. He likes to pace and whisper-preach his well-prepared lesson one last time. He never uses notes in the pulpit and that last run-though is vital to his memory.
But despite the loud volume on my television and the humming treadmill motor, I could hear bumping and knocking, stamping footsteps and things falling in the upstairs part of the house. It did not sound at all like study or the kind of whisper-preaching that my husband does on early Sunday mornings. If he was preaching up there, it must have been some more powerful sermon. Just as I was working up a sweat, Glenn came down the stairs, rounded the corner and with a look of utter agitation on his face, he shouted “Can you power that down and come help me?…Can you come right now?”
“What’s wrong?…”What’s the matter?” I said as I started shutting off the treadmill and the TV.
“Well, we have a small squirrel in the house and I can’t catch him. I’ve tried and tried, but he’s very fast and He keeps going under things and behind things and I need you to help me corner him. I’m in a pickle. I have got to get back to this lesson.”
“Oh no…Oh dear…okay,” I stammered. “…but I am really not your girl for this job.” See, Glenn wanted me to stand at the end of tables and sofas and beds to try and corner the squirrel when he emerged from hiding places. What I wanted to do was stand on top of those tables and beds and sofas and stay as far from that squirrel as I possibly could get. I soon saw, though, that our squirrel had no qualms whatsoever about running on top of tables, himself, and jumping from stairwells to tabletops to floors and behind armoires and under closed doors. He was the next thing to a flying squirrel and he was all over my house. And he loved stairwells.
The next few minutes proved to be a worthless workout. Out of breath, Glenn kept saying “I’m going to have to let you take care of this because I have to preach in a few minutes.”
“I’m not the right person for this job. I just can’t do this, “ I kept responding.
“Be brave. I need you. The church needs you. Just watch for him to come out and call me.”
About that time, we both thought we heard the little fugitive in a closet—a closet jam packed with 150 glass-bottle Coca-Colas, and a dozen packages of paper-ware for a big Christmas party we’re planning for the congregation at the end of the week. In addition there are a bajillion gift bags in there along with piles of random packing and wrapping materials and bows. There’s a shelf of 32 volumes of the “Great Books” and there’s a library that I use for Digging Deep. There are clothes I’ve hoarded for grandchildren and all of my winter coats. There are extra bed pillows and there’s an electric train. In short there are a million places for a squirrel to hide in that closet and there’s great potential for squirrel havoc in there and I am NOT the girl to go rummaging through that looking for a jumpy squirrel! I would jump out of my skin if I ever actually found him in there! My imagination went quickly to him jumping from the top shelf onto my back as I’m jostling those boxes and bags on the floor. Or what if I came eyeball to eyeball with him when I looked behind that basket of toys?! Intellectually, I know he’s small and he wants out of my house as badly as I want him out; but this is no academic exercise. This is Cindy Colley in a closet with a squirrel who’s already proven his gymnastic prowess. I’m not your girl.
So I shut that closet door. I pushed a very heavy chest against that closet door. I went to another closet and got a big black board that I use to cover the kitchen sink when I need more counter space for serving company and I wedged it up against the door, between the chest and the crack at the bottom of the door. I was thinking about all the donations I was making to this project (after all, who wants to set the dishes for guests on a “squirrel trap”?) But I was not thinking too long and hard about that. I was thinking “I am NOT your girl, whether you have to preach or not.”
I went to the door of the room and shut it, stuffing a quilt under the crack at the bottom. The door kept popping open under pressure, so I rigged a bungee cord up to another doorknob in the adjoining hall. My house was starting to look like a scene in “Home Alone” and I knew that home…alone was exactly what that squirrel was going to be while we went to worship. Home (my home)…Alone (with my Christmas gifts and party supplies and my precious little library)! I could not bear that thought. I am not your girl.
“What if he escaped from the closet while I was gone to get the board? What if he is not incarcerated, but instead he’s ‘at large’ again in my house? What if he’s in there parading around my Christmas tree where he was when Glenn first spotted him while pacing and preaching in the living room? What if he is IN my 13-foot Christmas tree? Will I find a mess of broken ornaments on the floor when I get home from worship? Will I pull back the covers on our bed and find pieces of that tree…or worse? What if we don’t find him today? How far back does the front seat recline in my car and is it going to be a warm night?” I went back and rigged another door with a quilt and bungee cord. Some things are just more important than…say, washing your hair or even showering before leaving for worship.
As we traveled to worship, Ezra and Colleyanna, (ages five and three, respectively) called for FaceTime. Hearing about that squirrel was the best thing about their morning. “INSIDE your house?!!” they yelled with glee. “Under your Christmas tree?!”…”I wish dat squuyell was at my house! Dat would be esciting!”
I tried hard to worship. I really did…and that lesson about Mary and Martha zoomed right over to my pew and zeroed right into my “careful and troubled about many things” heart and I repented for the squirrel-induced hindrances over and over.
Pulling out of the parking lot, Glenn said “Where do you want to go for lunch?”
“I just want to go home and find that squirrel.” I replied….”In fact, I’d really love to cook lunch for you while you do the dispatch work.”
“Seriously?…Well, alright then. We’ll go home.”
And my good husband drove home, got his little 22 pistol, loaded it with rat shot, and made a regular invasion of that closet. In fact, that entire room looks like it was in the direct path of a level five tropical cyclone.
A few minutes later, Glenn came through the kitchen with a John Wayne kind of swagger and said “Well, we got him.”
“Great!… Where was he? I didn’t hear the gun.”
“It was pretty easy, actually,” Glenn replied. “I was just about to give up finding him in that closet. I walked through the bathroom with my gun to look for him in the sewing room…” (That was another room I’d bungee-corded off).
“…And out of the corner of my eye, I spotted him…floating around in the toilet.”
Ten take-aways from the thirsty squirrel saga:
- Biblical, marital submission trumps fear and is a strong catalyst for creativity.
- When you say “I do…for better or worse” at the altar, you never know what you’re really signing up for.
- Some mornings, just living life burns more calories than running on a treadmill (or even doing a high intensity training workout).
- Always keep a few spare bungee cords around the house. They’re good for lots of things.
- Worship is hard work. Some days it’s very hard work.
- That Mary and Martha lesson is very practical and unrelenting in its varied applications (https://westhuntsville.org/sermons/mary-martha-and-lazarus/).
- Lots of sacrifices will be made when the thirsty have hope of a drink.
- Make your husband a hero even if he never pulls the trigger. It’s all in the chase; the effort and the end result.
- Sometimes you plunge in too deeply for something you want and you find there’s no way back out.
- Not every Sunday baptism ends with walking in newness of life.