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The walrus said to the oysters, “The time has come to talk of many things: of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax — of cabbages — and kings.”

The oysters cried, “Wait a bit before we have our chat; for some of us are out of breath, and all of us are fat!” (from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There).

Poor as a church mouse. That’s me. I am anything but fat. Leonardo da Vinci once wrote in one of his notebooks that “Man and animals are merely a passage and channel for food.” What food? I am perpetually hungry.

Last week our overweight minister preached on fasting. I was reminded of what Saint Jerome once wrote: “When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.” (It’s in the church library.) Our preacher’s always is. He eats a lot of pizza in his study. Sends out for them. Maybe he thinks eating fast food is fasting.

To keep the record straight, I should explain my life isn’t always famine. Sometimes it’s feast. I’m thankful for the monthly senior luncheons. Old people spill a lot. And then there are the quarterly meetings of our district churches. All of them send delegates.

Before the chair calls the meeting to order at 9 o’clock in the morning, there are coffee and doughnuts. At 10:30, a coffee break. At noon the ladies of the church serve a sumptuous repast of chicken, pork, potatoes, beans, broccoli, and apple pie. Why is there always broccoli?

It would be a proper meal for farmers after having labored since dawn. Instead, all that food gets consumed by delegates who have done nothing all morning but sit. No wonder half of them sleep through the afternoon session. Thus the work of the kingdom is done.

I have two cousins who visit me from time to time. The one I call “Fatso” is a megachurch mouse. There are five kitchens in his church, plus a snack bar, a candy dispenser, and an ice-cream machine. My grandpa remembers when churches had no kitchen at all.

The other cousin is a theater mouse. He’s full of popcorn. My mother used to say that in every fat mouse there is a thin one trying to get out. I have never understood that saying.

Thinking of food reminds me of Thanksgiving, when the members bring food to church to be delivered to the poor in our neighborhood, although a part of it is for the preacher to supplement his low salary. Plenty of scraps for me. But, as they say, every silver lining has a cloud.

Our Thanksgiving service has become well-known throughout the countryside. As a result, there are mice from everywhere who never come to church except on Thanksgiving Day.

Our library shelves hold a collection of poems by Sir John Betjeman, a former poet laureate of England. I am indebted to him for immortalizing my feelings in verse. He writes about Harvest Sunday in his Diary of a Church Mouse  :

“But how annoying when one finds
That other mice with pagan minds
Come into church my food to share
Who have no proper business
there. . . . ”

“While I, who starve the whole year through,
Must share my food with rodent who
Except at this time of year
Not once inside a church appear.”

Last Sunday I had three M&Ms, a peppermint, and some spilled milk on the floor from baby bottles. Not a balanced diet. I’m reminded of Hebrews 5:12-14, which talks about some Christians who were so spiritually emaciated they needed to start over with the milk of the Word, and others who needed to get on to the meat.

Quite a challenge for preachers to present the whole counsel of God.

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