Our squirrelly Sunday

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.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Life is like a box of chocolates?

  • Tom Hering

    Life is like a box of chocolates?

  • womanofthehouse

    Oh, wow! I won’t even attempt to interpret the events, but last week we were late to church too because of a 5k run! We had to circle around and around to get to a bridge to cross the river. Usually there is very little traffic and we just zoom down the road, but not that day.

  • womanofthehouse

    Oh, wow! I won’t even attempt to interpret the events, but last week we were late to church too because of a 5k run! We had to circle around and around to get to a bridge to cross the river. Usually there is very little traffic and we just zoom down the road, but not that day.

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    I cannot help commenting here. I did a Google search to try to find out what kind of critter this was, and it may have been something called a “sugar glider” – a pet rodent that is often mistaken for a flying squirrel! So it may have been somebody’s escaped pet. But best of all, guess where they are from? Australia! And guess where the guest the Veith’s brought to church yesterday was from? :-) The strangeness grows . . .

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    I cannot help commenting here. I did a Google search to try to find out what kind of critter this was, and it may have been something called a “sugar glider” – a pet rodent that is often mistaken for a flying squirrel! So it may have been somebody’s escaped pet. But best of all, guess where they are from? Australia! And guess where the guest the Veith’s brought to church yesterday was from? :-) The strangeness grows . . .

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    PS If you want to see a picture, click on my name in either of the two comments to see my blog entry on this little guy!

  • http://thesoberpeasant.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-was-that.html Rev. J Douthwaite

    PS If you want to see a picture, click on my name in either of the two comments to see my blog entry on this little guy!

  • Jonathan

    A 5K course is only just over three miles. If it is a worthy cause, why not take up running the race one Sunday morning a year? Maybe that’s what the squirrel and the tooth were saying.

  • Jonathan

    A 5K course is only just over three miles. If it is a worthy cause, why not take up running the race one Sunday morning a year? Maybe that’s what the squirrel and the tooth were saying.

  • Dan Kempin

    I may be able to find a man of God who can interpret dreams, but I’m not sure about squirrels in the pulpit and disappearing teeth.

    You weren’t by chance singing “I’ll fly away” when the squirrel launched from the pulpit, were you?

  • Dan Kempin

    I may be able to find a man of God who can interpret dreams, but I’m not sure about squirrels in the pulpit and disappearing teeth.

    You weren’t by chance singing “I’ll fly away” when the squirrel launched from the pulpit, were you?

  • EricM

    The only thing that came to mind as I read the post was the song “Mississippi Squirrel.”

  • EricM

    The only thing that came to mind as I read the post was the song “Mississippi Squirrel.”

  • Larry

    You came close to having a Mississippi Church Revival — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgFjLB4VYSU

  • Larry

    You came close to having a Mississippi Church Revival — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgFjLB4VYSU

  • Orianna Laun

    Since when did you move to the sleepy little town of Pascagoula?
    As for the conjunction of the race and the ribs, I think the most one can say is that there was a full moon last week, and the events were carry over.

  • Orianna Laun

    Since when did you move to the sleepy little town of Pascagoula?
    As for the conjunction of the race and the ribs, I think the most one can say is that there was a full moon last week, and the events were carry over.

  • CRB

    Perhaps all of these experiences are fodder for
    a future book? The title would be intriguing!

  • CRB

    Perhaps all of these experiences are fodder for
    a future book? The title would be intriguing!

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Thank the Lord that He only sent Rocky, and not Bullwinkle.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Thank the Lord that He only sent Rocky, and not Bullwinkle.

  • Carl Vehse

    The sugar glider that visited St. Athanasius yesterday is apparently quite popular, and may be named “Shandy”, who has his own merchandise for sale.

  • Carl Vehse

    The sugar glider that visited St. Athanasius yesterday is apparently quite popular, and may be named “Shandy”, who has his own merchandise for sale.

  • http://www.Zazzle.com/Koobear Elaine Weiss

    Well I don’t know what these events mean however I certainly laughed out loud not about the broken tooth but about the flying squirrel (or whatever it was). It isn’t often that I just sit and giggle when reading articles today. Thanks.

  • http://www.Zazzle.com/Koobear Elaine Weiss

    Well I don’t know what these events mean however I certainly laughed out loud not about the broken tooth but about the flying squirrel (or whatever it was). It isn’t often that I just sit and giggle when reading articles today. Thanks.

  • DonS

    Now, shouldn’t they run the 5K on the gravel back roads? It would be better for the runners’ legs, and would leave the main roads open for church goers. Or, alternatively, design the course so that it ends at the church doors? That would be quite a novelty for a good number of the runners, I suspect.

  • Ryan

    I would send a polite but firm letter to the editor about the race.

  • DonS

    Now, shouldn’t they run the 5K on the gravel back roads? It would be better for the runners’ legs, and would leave the main roads open for church goers. Or, alternatively, design the course so that it ends at the church doors? That would be quite a novelty for a good number of the runners, I suspect.

  • Ryan

    I would send a polite but firm letter to the editor about the race.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    You need to write this day into a song called:

    The Alexandria Lutheran Squirrel Revival

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    You need to write this day into a song called:

    The Alexandria Lutheran Squirrel Revival

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    I had a mouse in my sink, yesterday, in between the pot lids I was going to wash. There it ran when I lifted the pot lid. You can imagine my scream. My brilliant husband already trapped it. I haven’t had a mouse in decades. The Canadian house is sealed tightly.

    The animal events are related to the approaching winter. We can interpret that easily.

    The broken tooth without biting down on anything hard we can interpret, as well. It is called a sign of “aging”.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    I had a mouse in my sink, yesterday, in between the pot lids I was going to wash. There it ran when I lifted the pot lid. You can imagine my scream. My brilliant husband already trapped it. I haven’t had a mouse in decades. The Canadian house is sealed tightly.

    The animal events are related to the approaching winter. We can interpret that easily.

    The broken tooth without biting down on anything hard we can interpret, as well. It is called a sign of “aging”.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    So, did 7 deacons and the pastor get saved?
    Did y’all get rebaptized, whether you needed it or not?

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    So, did 7 deacons and the pastor get saved?
    Did y’all get rebaptized, whether you needed it or not?

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    This is one of the oddest blog posts I’ve read, in a long time. Loved it.

    I’ve been in churches invested with lady bugs.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    This is one of the oddest blog posts I’ve read, in a long time. Loved it.

    I’ve been in churches invested with lady bugs.

  • James

    Dr. Veith,

    In your own eyes, do you see a trend in these events? Some commonality?

    I once had a period of 10 days or so in my life where I heard–very emphatically, without fail *every day*–the subject of suicide. A poster, radio broadcast, conversation, all random. I realized that it was something representative of suicide was the meaning, I believe, the Lord was trying to impress on me (in fact, I think it was despair or confusion) as a way to signal what was going on in me. Once I realized it, I targeted my prayers, mediation, and help on that strategic point. What I was wrestling with broke.

    You may not have a problem like I did, but perhaps (maybe) the Lord is trying to speak to you in some way about something that might not get through otherwise from the inside for whatever reason. Since, if this were true, God would be communicating to you, he knows your frame of mind and how to communicate with precision. So, It’d be up to you & your angle of perspective to hear from God on this point about what that is. That is, he’s speaking to meaning only you may know (since you have the most experience with your thoughts).

    I hope this helps. Funny story. :)

    James

  • James

    Dr. Veith,

    In your own eyes, do you see a trend in these events? Some commonality?

    I once had a period of 10 days or so in my life where I heard–very emphatically, without fail *every day*–the subject of suicide. A poster, radio broadcast, conversation, all random. I realized that it was something representative of suicide was the meaning, I believe, the Lord was trying to impress on me (in fact, I think it was despair or confusion) as a way to signal what was going on in me. Once I realized it, I targeted my prayers, mediation, and help on that strategic point. What I was wrestling with broke.

    You may not have a problem like I did, but perhaps (maybe) the Lord is trying to speak to you in some way about something that might not get through otherwise from the inside for whatever reason. Since, if this were true, God would be communicating to you, he knows your frame of mind and how to communicate with precision. So, It’d be up to you & your angle of perspective to hear from God on this point about what that is. That is, he’s speaking to meaning only you may know (since you have the most experience with your thoughts).

    I hope this helps. Funny story. :)

    James

  • Peter Leavitt

    One has these squirrelly days and even periods. I appreciate Dr. Veith’s honesty spiced with humor about his recent such day, along with the delicious bon mot, “squirrelly.”

  • Peter Leavitt

    One has these squirrelly days and even periods. I appreciate Dr. Veith’s honesty spiced with humor about his recent such day, along with the delicious bon mot, “squirrelly.”

  • Liz

    We had a southern flying squirrel in our house just two weeks ago. It arrived in our coat closet via the attic, walls and wainscoating and gave us an acrobatic 45 minute chase through our high ceilinged living room and studio. Much flying involved until we finally shooed it out the front door. It was quite adorable in truth…

  • Liz

    We had a southern flying squirrel in our house just two weeks ago. It arrived in our coat closet via the attic, walls and wainscoating and gave us an acrobatic 45 minute chase through our high ceilinged living room and studio. Much flying involved until we finally shooed it out the front door. It was quite adorable in truth…

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Thanks, Pastor Douthwaite, for that information and for the further level of oddness! I remain impressed at how you kept your cool. The episode will have to become part of the lore of St. Athanasius. The Australian church where our grandson was baptized was called St. Luke’s. Just outside is a gum tree in which lives a koala. The parishioners have named him Luke. So I propose that we call our sugar glider Athanasius. He certainly was against the world on Sunday.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    Thanks, Pastor Douthwaite, for that information and for the further level of oddness! I remain impressed at how you kept your cool. The episode will have to become part of the lore of St. Athanasius. The Australian church where our grandson was baptized was called St. Luke’s. Just outside is a gum tree in which lives a koala. The parishioners have named him Luke. So I propose that we call our sugar glider Athanasius. He certainly was against the world on Sunday.

  • Dan Kempin

    ” . . . I propose that we call [him] Athanasius.”

    I can only presume that he will return on Trinity Sunday.

  • Dan Kempin

    ” . . . I propose that we call [him] Athanasius.”

    I can only presume that he will return on Trinity Sunday.

  • http://www.homesteadblogger.com/gonorthyoungpack Jenn W

    Yup, it was a day! :) Sorry about the tooth – I was trying to get my kids to pay attention to the prayers, so I missed the flying bit. The kids don’t think the sugar glider looks like what was sitting next to them on the floor for a bit. :) It sure was strange though! :) I’ve had Bullwinkle in my back yard lots – you get used to it – and stay out of the way. I like the idea of naming him Athanasius. :)

  • http://www.homesteadblogger.com/gonorthyoungpack Jenn W

    Yup, it was a day! :) Sorry about the tooth – I was trying to get my kids to pay attention to the prayers, so I missed the flying bit. The kids don’t think the sugar glider looks like what was sitting next to them on the floor for a bit. :) It sure was strange though! :) I’ve had Bullwinkle in my back yard lots – you get used to it – and stay out of the way. I like the idea of naming him Athanasius. :)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X