Do you know the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, written by Laura Numeroff? It was one of my favorites to read to our kids when they were little. The premise of the book is that giving a mouse a cookie will set off a chain of events. First he will want a glass of milk. Then a straw. Then a mirror to look in, to make certain he doesn’t have a milk mustache. Then a pair of scissors to give himself a trim . . . . . . And on and on it goes in domino fashion, one thing very much leading to the next.
The humor of the book, beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond, is found in the pictures and rather unpredictable twists and turns those dominoes take. The truth of the book is found in an adult reader’s real life experience that often has seen one thing lead to the next.
Since mid-December I feel like the mouse who took the cookie and found one thing leading to the next! For a few years now my wife and I have casually been looking for a new home. Our home has served us well, but with four different levels (i.e. lots of stairs) the amenities were oft removed from each other, and most especially from us. Lori (my wife) developed a Zillow habit – social media shopping for the perfect home, which led to our attending a few open houses, which led to a return open house, to a call to the realtor, to a more thorough inspection, to writing an offer, to having the offer accepted, to taking possession, to cleaning, to painting, to new flooring, to new appliances, to window coverings, to shelving, to packing, and then to moving! All of this has been happening while we’ve been keeping a few other plates spinning – and that original cookie, seems a distant memory!
But that’s how life often unfolds, isn’t it? One thing leads to another. It’s like the sheep my Grandpa used to raise. They would nibble themselves from one blade of grass to the next, only to look up a hour or two later to find themselves in the far reaches of the pasture, a good distance from the barn. Yet, when Grandpa called out to them, they would come running to his familiar voice and the promise of grain and his attention.
Our faith in Christ, complete with it’s spiritual practices of worship, prayer, bible reading, community, and others is the touch stone that calls us back, and roots us amidst life’s meanderings and domino decisions. In faith we remember whose we truly are, where we find our identity, and how to get back home.
Recently, as I was yet again contemplating doing something, that had been prompted by something else I had done, which was the result of something I’d done before that – all of it tying back to a decision to look for a new house; I stopped. Rather than move forward, I went home (to the original house) and sat down (for the first time in a while) to rest, gather my thoughts, watch a basketball game, fall asleep in my chair, and just “be” – as opposed to “do”. One thing led to the next, but in a completely different and much more relaxing way, to a needed outcome.
When did you last stop? When did you last stop doing whatever has tied up your time, your attention, your emotions? When did you last stop to be quiet with the Lord? To pray? To reflect? To give thanks? To be at home?
I suffer from “it all has to be done at once” syndrome. Some of you know what that is! But, in truth, it doesn’t all have to be done, at least not all at once. For it is sometimes in the doing that we lose sight of the being. Just ask the mouse who got the cookie. Was he able to enjoy it? Eventually – after he draws a picture, hangs the drawing on the refrigerator, realizes that he is thirsty, and asks for a cookie to go with his milk .