We were vacationing in the beautiful State of Vermont, staying at a lovely bed-and-breakfast in a small town tucked into the majestic hills. The home was surrounded by a forest. Flowers everywhere. The home boasted a screened in porch on which coffee was enjoyed each morning. A quiet stream ran behind the house which welcomed deer and other small animals. This truly was a magnificent setting for a relaxing vacation.
Sunday more arrived and we decided we would attend church. The choice, we soon discovered, was slim. Actually there was one. A block away was a small country church which boasted a beautiful steeple. A sign out front read, “Welcome to Country Community Church, George A. Garrison, Pastor.”
Since this was our only choice, and because we wanted to attend church, we joined these folks for worship. Their entire membership was a whopping 20 people. I counted seven men, seven women and 6 children. And with us, their grand total for this Sunday was twenty-two!
Even though it was a small church, its people were quite sophisticated. Women dressed in stunning dresses with a large hat to match. Men dressed in three-piece suits. We stood out like a sore thumb. My husband was wearing khaki pants and polo shirt, myself wearing a cotton skirt and blouse – sans hat. Even though we were not “properly” attired, we were warmly welcomed.
A friendly usher walked us to our pew. He introduced himself as Sam. Three minutes before the service was to being we heard this horrible EEEEEEEEKKKKKKKK!!!!!! at which time seven women jumped up on the pew looking absolutely horrified. I thought, “What?? Well I never…….Are we in some kind of cult??” I looked around to see what the pastor was going to do with this bizarre situation. I noted that even he had a rather startled expression on his face.
“Okay,” I mused. Maybe this wasn’t how they typically began their Sunday morning worship service.
And then I saw the object which caused their actions. A tiny grey, field mouse scampered up the middle aisle of the church. I must admit, even I lifted my feet off the floor – just in case the mouse took a wrong turn and ran through my pew.
I sat there amused. What were they going to do? Obviously we couldn’t have church with seven women standing at attention as they were, on the pews no less, and a mouse dashing here and there throughout the church.
Soon, seven men began chasing that poor, frightened critter and eventually had him cornered. “Now what,” I wondered.
One of the men had a plastic bowl he retrieved from the kitchen and with a “whomp” the bowl came down on top of the mouse. Probably scared that poor thing to an early death.
Okay, mouse is captured, what would they do next?
After a short discussion among the seven, one of them pushed the bowl, with mouse underneath, across the hardwood floor to the door – which by now was standing wide open waiting to receive this little “visitor.” Once the mouse was safely to the door, the bowl was lifted and a delighted grey mouse scampered out the door and headed for the hills beyond, probably never to return to church again. So much for this little church mouse!
All seven women stepped off their pew, located their husband and children, then quietly and calmly sat down as though nothing had ever happened, patting their hats to make sure they were still appropriately placed.
I sat their bemused. I had this insatiable bubble of laugher just waiting to burst forth – and yet I knew this was not the time or place for this to occur – or was it? This was the funniest thing I had ever witnessed in church and this laughter was not going to stay inside, try as I might to keep it there. My husband gave me a warning look.
As the pastor took the podium, I began to snicker. Then he announced, with a serious tone, “Let’s stand and turn to page 207 in your hymn book. We’ll begin our service this morning with the singing of Behold a Stranger at the Door.
That was it! Laughter just wouldn’t stay inside. With the announcement of that song – after just having a furry little stranger at this church door – I lost it and started to laugh. Twenty heads turned to look at this visitor, then they too burst into a hardly, joyful laughter.
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