Yesterday, I shared that a parishioner was bringing in a trap that I could use to catch the elusive creature (probably of the squirrel variety) that is stalking my church. I had some concerned citizens worrying about the nature of the aforementioned trap…so here it is! A catch-and-release trap, so that this mythical beast, if caught, can be freed unhurt to the wilds of British Columbia (or our town park, whichever is closer!), safe and unharmed! I also had a question as to why I named this beast Chester. Well…let me tell you the story! (There’s ALWAYS a story!) About four years ago, our next-door neighbor showed up one rainy Sunday afternoon with “something for my son”- turned out to be a baby squirrel in a box! He had apparently fallen out of a tree in the rain and was quite unhappy about that fact. Our neighbor clearly surveyed the situation, weighed all available options, and did the only logic thing he could do- dump the squirrel on the pastor’s kids! So here we were with a squirrel. He was so little we were afraid he wouldn’t make it on his own (yeah, I know, it’s a SQUIRREL! Ruins my carefully crafted “tough-guy” image, doesn’t it?!), so we brought him in the garage, where it was a little warmer and a lot drier. My kids then did what kids have done in this situation since the dawn of time- they named him- Chester, therefore making it infinitely harder to actually DO anything with the squirrel! So we tried to take care of Chester, the newest member of our family, that rainy Sunday afternoon. I called a few people who I thought might be able to help…I was wrong! Then, the rain stopped. AND…Chester seems to perk up quite a bit. I knew we couldn’t keep a wild squirrel in our garage (I mean, I was born at night…but it wasn’t LAST night!), so I convinced the kids that Chester was ready to leave the nest- metaphorically speaking. We would release him in the back yard, sing a few verses of “Born Free”, and watch while he happily assimilated with the several dozen other squirrels who were already residents of my back yard! We took the box out there, carefully…got…Chester out, put him down, and waited. Nothing. He looked at us as if to say, “Well? What are YOU looking at? What exactly do you expect ME to do?” So we started walking toward the house…and Chester started following us! Eventually, our neighbors got to see a grown man with a Master’s Degree and his two kids RUN circles around the house trying to get away from a little squirrel! Eventually, we lost him! Job well done, high fives all around, it’s Miller time! (Since I don’t drink, however, it turned out to be Swiss Miss time!) That was great…until the next morning! We were awakened by Chester, sitting on our front porch, yelling for my son! (No, I’m NOT kidding!) Chester even tried to follow my son to school, but was thwarted by a light rain. So, he camped out…UNDER our van! I got ready to go to work, but didn’t want to run over Chester, and was afraid the sound of the van starting would scare him, so I PUSHED the van from over the top of him! (ANY shred of that tough guy image previously mentioned? Absolutely shot!) So I’m trying to leave, and the squirrel is just sitting in the cold rain, looking abandoned by his new family. SO…I got the box back out, determined to take him to the local park and set him free once and for all! I mean, come on- I have big, important things to do! Great- except once I got to the park, I didn’t have the heart to actually let him go! Too cold! Too wet! So- I took him to church with me! And he stayed there all day long! And people came in and said things like, “I see you have a squirrel in a box on your desk!” “Yes, and his name is Chester!” “Oh! Well…I had an uncle named Chester once.” And they would wander off, trying to imagine any earthly reason why the Bishop would send a crazy person to pastor their church! What eventually happened to Chester? Later that night, the kids and I drove him to the University of Illinois’ Animal Clinic and PAID to have them take him! (I just MUST have “sucker” absolutely tattooed across my forehead! Got any swamp land you need to unload? Apparently I’m your guy!) We have reminisced MANY times about Chester over the past few years- wondering where he went, if he found a cute girl squirrel, settled down and raised a family, if he was even a HE to begin with! (Chesterina?)
Which brings me right back to the humane trap (didn’t think I’d get back, did you?) that is currently baited with peanuts in the basement of my church. (I checked it at 9PM last night- nothing yet!) Could the beast roaming the hallowed halls of my church be Chester, finally come home? (Hey, don’t laugh! The average lifespan of a squirrel is 6 years; Chester would be a relatively young man…er…squirrel of 4 now! It could happen!) Let me say again, they did NOT cover pest control in seminary. We talked alot about old, dead white guys and big, fancy, multisyllabic words that no one has ever heard of nor will I ever actually use again…BUT…we never covered what to do with a large rodent in your basement! (Higher education is sorely lacking, I fear!) I will keep you posted on the fate of Chester, and maybe tell you the story of how we accidentally rescued a dog belonging to a member of the St. Louis Rams football team! (No foolin’!) Have a great day, tell your friends about my blog, and stick with Jesus!