A white mouse by the name of Cheezer appeared in our garden last week. Lying in the damp grass, it seemed an unwanted toy, cast away by someone who no longer cared. I picked it up and took it inside to dry it from the overnight dewfall. I couldn’t imagine how it had got where I found it.
It didn’t belong to any member of our family, so I took it to church. It could be the church mouse. I contemplated setting it in the pulpit, but then decided it might cause alarm to someone, so sat it on the vestry windowsill, where it would be warm and where it could watch the comings and goings with its beady eyes.
One lunchtime last week, I noticed a little girl with a Filipina nanny walking past our Rectory gates. She stared in intently before her nanny took her hand. Then on Thursday, while talking on the phone, I spotted the little girl again. This time she came through the gates and stared before being called away.
I realized what it was she was seeking – a small white mouse. By the time I managed to finish the call, the girl and her nanny had disappeared.
This morning in church, I announced that if anyone knew of a little girl with blonde hair who had a Filipina nanny, would they let me know, because I thought that one of her toys was doing duty as our church mouse. There were smiles of amusement, but no-one knew who the little girl might be.
Does it matter if the mouse is never returned?
When we are small things matter a lot. If someone takes the trouble to look after one of our toys and to return it safely to us, we will think well of them. If the church cares about us enough to return our special toy, then we will have fond memories of the church. It is the little things that make the difference, whether its a child’s toy, or remembering someone’s name, or remembering an important date.
The strength of the church in the countryside is that everyone knows everyone and the little things, the things that are important to people, don’t get forgotten. Jesus tells a story about servants who are faithful in dealing with small things being blessed with great things. If the church can’t get the small things right, then all our fine words about the big matters will fall on deaf ears.
I will watch out each lunchtime for the little girl passing by because it’s about more than a mouse, it’s about regard for human dignity and about listening to Jesus when he says that small things matter.