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Cabbages and Kings
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Eppinga is waiting for his ship to come in. It won’t. Meanwhile, he has asked me to write his column for a few months. I am happy to oblige.

Permit me to introduce myself. I am a church mouse. It may surprise you to know that our numbers are not inconsiderable. This may be because you have never seen one of us. Having a low self-image we generally stay out of sight. Also, it is safer to do so.

One of your modern poets, T.S. Eliot, wrote about Murder in the Cathedral. It happens. Take my wife, for example. Mrs. Higsee, a soprano in the choir, hit her high note. It shattered the rose window, a piece of which fell on my wife, killing her. Some thought it was humorous. One said, “Maybe the preacher didn’t succeed in slaying the devil this morning, but the service sure killed a mouse. Ha. Ha.”

Since that happened I have become much more safety-conscious. For example, I now have two mouse holes instead of one; the second serves as an escape door.

Sometimes, in extreme hunger, I nibble on books in the church library. Lord Francis Bacon, English statesman, philosopher and essayist, may have had my appetite in mind when he wrote that some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed whole, and some few to be chewed and digested. I generally chew on bad books written by bad theologians. I have no qualms about destroying their writings, whose loss is the church’s gain. Incidentally, I enjoy reading the children’s books best. Animals talk in so many of them. So why not me?

Or write? I got the idea from reading The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, a book that stood on C.S. Lewis’s nightstand (along with the Bible) and in which animals talk. Another book of talking animals was written by Aesop in the fifth century. So if people can write about animals, why can’t animals write about people?

To my knowledge, no owl has ever done it, although owls are supposed to be wise. Mr. Ferret hasn’t done it either, even though he can ferret out a lot of stuff about people. He says he has the lowdown on many of them. So have I, having lived in a church quite awhile.

Even in the Bible animals talk. The serpent in Eden. Balaam’s donkey. In

G. K. Chesterton’s poem “The Donkey” another talks. People make fun of him, but the donkey says:

    Fools! For I also had my hour;    One far fierce hour and sweet:    There was a shout about my ears,    And palms before my feet.

In the church library there is a volume of poems by the Scottish bard Robert Burns. The dialect makes for tough reading. One day Mr. Burns, seated in church, saw a louse on a lady’s bonnet. Afterward he wrote a poem about it: “To a Louse.” What impudence to be crawling on so fine a lady! Burns told it—detested by both saint and sinner—to “go somewhere else and seek your dinner.” No doubt the lady in question thought her appearance quite presentable. So Burns philosophized and wrote:

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us    To see oursels as ithers see us!    It wad frae mony a blunder free us.

Taking a cue from the bard’s delightful poem, perhaps some church folks would like to know how they appear to others. So in the months to come, I’ll offer a mouse-eyed view of the human species. More specifically, of church people. And more specifically, of Banner readers.

Maybe it won’t work out very well. Maybe it at least will provide a temporary relief from Eppinga. I promise nothing, except to do my best. As Burns said: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”

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