Sunday was one of the oddest days I have ever known. It was our grandson’s third birthday, so it all had a festive air, but it was a day of exceedingly strange happenings.
We went off to church. But it turns out, our little town was holding a 5K run. On Sunday morning! That’s bad enough, scheduling such a thing to compete with church services. But to make it worse, the police had blocked off all of the main streets. This meant that anyone trying to get across town to go to church couldn’t get there! And if you go to another town for church, as we do, you couldn’t get to the highway. The geography of our town is such that the only way to get out of town is to go out the back way, which takes you over curvy little country roads, some of them paved only with gravel, through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. So we did this, arriving at Bible Class 40 minutes late. That was odd.
Then during the divine service, while the pastor was giving another of his excellent sermons, I saw him kind of jump, then smile, before resuming his preaching. I didn’t know what had happened, but then I saw out of the corner of my eye, a brown creature dashing down the rightmost aisle, right by where I was sitting. A mouse!, I thought with a shudder. Then he dashed by again. It was bigger than a mouse! Oh, no, I thought. A rat is even worse. Then he dashed by again and stopped right by where I was sitting. It was a little squirrel! For some reason, mice and rats are repulsive, but squirrels are cute. I relaxed, though others in the congregation were quietly and reverently freaking out.
It was time for the prayers. I had my head bowed and my eyes closed. My daughter, though, a grownup and a mom and thus reliable, was looking around nervously for that animal. (She had some Cheerios for the birthday boy and was worried that they would be perceived as squirrel food and thus attract the unwanted visitor.) So her eyes were open during the prayer and she saw the squirrel climb up the pulpit–the pastor was by the altar–and jump out at the congregation! He spread his little arms, which had a bat-like membrane, and glided for several feet. He was a flying squirrel! Someone finally opened a door and he finally got outside, which was all the wanted. That was really odd.
Then at Holy Communion, our whole family went forward. Our grandson, again, had just turned three on that very day, which made him very close to being two. If you have experience working with this age group, you will know that children that age are, shall we say, unpredictable. With our grandson, you are never sure just what he will do. He received the pastor’s blessing with his usual pious equanimity. Whereupon pastor dropped a Communion wafer! It was right at our grandson’s feet. Before his parents could react, he bent down, picked up the Body of Christ, and handed it up to Pastor. That was a relief, and it turned out quite touching–maybe a sign that the lad will grow up to be a pastor–but it was still odd.
Then we went out to eat to celebrate his birthday. Two restaurants were side by side, a BBQ joint and a hamburger emporium. We let the birthday boy loose to see which one he would run to. He picked, I was proud to see, the BBQ joint. As I was eating a tender, succulent rib, I broke a tooth! How? I crunched down on nothing hard! And where was it? it had disappeared! Odd! And that there should be such an accumulation of odd events was odder still!
Such a conjunction of multiple odd events all coming on a single day certainly defies probability, or, as one might say, defies the odds. They all seem strangely meaningful, as if they were trying to tell me something, as if they were signs. But what do they all mean? The difficulty getting to church, the flying squirrel in the divine service, the dropped host rescued by a three-year-old, the broken tooth. . . .What could these be signs for? Help me interpret these marvels.