A life lesson can come from anybody, even an almost drowned mouse.
Hurricane Sandy has devasted much of the eastern seaboard and now more rain and snow threatens to cause even more damage. Like everyone else, I'm saddened by the loss of life and my thoughts go out to the families of those who were lost and those who are in danger.
For those who must cope with the aftermath, though, I have some words of encouragement that come from the heart. It's a true story about persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. It's not about human courage, though. It's about a mouse.
The day Hurricane Sandy moved into my area, our cat (who lives entirely indoors) caught a mouse. This is not unusual, since we live in a rural area and when the weather turns bad, mice find their way to where it's warmer.
Since our (clawless) cat never kills the mice he captures, it's our general policy to take the mouse away and deposit it in the woods at the end of the driveway, where it's unlikely to find its way back inside the house.
This time, however, rain was falling in sheets, the treetops were bent almost horizontal and we'd just seen a huge tree topple in the wind just outside our house.
Once I caught the mouse in a paper towel, there was no way I was going to walk 100 yards down to the end of the driveway. My wife was screeching to "get that thing out of here," so I took the easy way out. I flushed it down the toilet.
Yeah, I know. Landing in a septic tank can't be the easiest way to die, but then neither is getting poisoned or having your spine snapped in a trap.
In any case, it was just a rodent. A pest.
Anyway, between calming down the kids (who were afraid of the storm) and fussing with the generator, I put the event entirely out of my mind.
A couple of hours later, I go to use the toilet and see that the mouse had crawled up the sewage drain and was swimming around in the toilet bowl.
I yelped in surpise and flushed again. Round and round he goes and he's gone...
About five hours later, I get up in the middle of the night and there's the mouse again, swimming in circles. Without really thinking about it, I flushed again, but after he'd disappeared (again) I felt kinda bad.
I mean, that mouse was showing determination.
The next day, about noon, I go I into the bathroom and damned if that mouse hadn't crawled up the drain for a third time.
He looked really, really tired, but was still paddling around, looking for some way to crawl out of that bowl.
I went to the kitchen, retrieved an ancient piece of Tupperware, scooped the mouse up. Even though it was still raining, I trekked down the driveway and gently dumped the mouse onto some dead leaves.
The mouse sat there, shaking in fright, but after a little while it crouched on its hind legs and started to clean its whiskers.
As I walked back to the house, it occurred to me that the mouse perfectly illustrated a point that I make constantly in this blog:
There is no disaster that can't be overcome if you're determined to overcome it.
So, even if it feels like God has flushed you down the toilet, pick yourself up and keep going. As long as you're alive and kicking, there's always a chance that God will pick you up and bring you to a place of safety.