I visited an old church in the countryside the other evening.
There was this historian giving a talk entitled “The influence of the Church in England from Chaucer to Henry the Eighth and Beyond”.
Given a choice between listening to that lecture and watching an important football match on TV I would choose the lecture every time. You know me, always willing to oblige and to please … Why is it that old fashioned marriage vows included the words “to love and obey”? Was there not a clause about football games in those vows? There should have been!
Anyway, the old historian did not disappoint. He lived up to my every expectation and went on and on giving us every minute detail about this most fascinating subject. He reminded me of one of the priests who visited our church recently; Father Ontoo Long!
He too went on ad infinitum reading his sermon from notes he must have typed on an old type-writer and stopping at every punctuation mark to add boredom to everlasting tedium. I remember, that Sunday in church there was a young couple sitting in front of us. By the time Father Ontoo Long finished his sermon they were playing with their grand children.
I wondered as I sat there on those hard wooden pews which very soon numb the lower parts of your body … You can't lean back either because one's backside slides off the well polished pews ... I wondered, if this historian stood side by side with Father Ontoo Long and they talked in unison would they put us to sleep in stereo?
My boredom was soon to be relieved by an unexpected distraction.
I noticed a few feet away just by the radiator standing against the wall a mouse crawling slowly towards me. He’d probably been disturbed by the historian’s monotonous voice, I thought.
The mouse stopped suddenly then ran back towards the wall. No one noticed him except me.
He then walked ever so slowly close to the wall towards the left of the radiator. Then he stopped again. Moments later he was joined by another mouse following a few feet behind. He too stopped and then the first mouse turned round facing the second mouse. They faced each other for a few seconds then the second mouse ran back towards the radiator followed by the first!
I bet those mice are married, I thought. Probably having an argument I shouldn’t wonder. Something like this:
Mr Mouse: Oh … why do we have to go to church every Sunday? That priest is so boring!
Mrs Mouse: We don’t go to church to see the priest. We go to meet God and to pray.
Mr Mouse: But God is everywhere. Why can’t we meet Him at home? I bet He’d love to watch the football match on TV!
At that point a sharp elbow dug deeply into my side and a harsh voice whispered “Stop snoring!”
Oh well … back to Chaucer and Henry the Eighth I suppose. Did they have church mice then?