After returning from a weeklong vacation several years ago, my wife and I were unloading the car inside our attached garage. After carrying in an assortment of luggage, Susan thought she spotted a rodent out of the corner of her eye. By her reckoning, a flash of fur darted along the baseboard. Rodents don’t live in our house, however, so we chalked the sighting up to tired eyes late at night. All was well.
The next afternoon, my phone rang at church. “There’s a chipmunk in our master bathroom and closet,” Susan said. “Did you close the door?” I asked. “Yes, it’s in there and I’m out here.” I sped home. Grabbing a bucket, a board, and some peanut butter, I entered the bathroom and closet area like a novice tiger trainer stepping into a ring to square off with a fanged mass of muscle. Except this was a chipmunk, and it didn’t growl; it chirped. I didn’t know what to do with a little thing that darted so fast I could barely keep my eye on it. As Susan and I talked through the door, we realized that this striped rodent had been trapped inside our garage for a week, and it had escaped into the house once we opened the door to unload the car. Eventually, I trapped it in a roll of the rug and took it outside.
Historic St. Anne Catholic Church on Mackinac Island had a squirrel trapped inside its sanctuary last week. I’m disappointed they didn’t call on me for help. With deep experience in chipmunk extraction, I could’ve offered assistance. Regardless, a church worker discovered the squirrel on Monday of Holy Week. The squirrel had chewed on windowsills, knocked over plants and votive candles, and notably reduced an antique crucifix to rubble.
The plaster figure of Jesus had been knocked off the cross and was laying on the tile floor missing its head, arms, and chunks of its torso. An innocent bystander might have presumed vandals had broken in. But the church worker spotted the squirrel atop the piano.
Was the squirrel sending some kind of message that Jesus doesn’t belong on the cross on Easter? That would presume a lot of theological sophistication for a rodent, and a fair degree of spiritual arrogance. But it would also have been fitting. The grave is empty on Easter and so is the cross. Scripture tells us that Jesus trampled death, shattered the grave, and lives on in people who subscribe to his Spirit.
Enter the maintenance engineer at Ste. Anne’s. He stepped into the picture with some plaster of Paris, patched Jesus back together again, and got him pinned back on the cross just in time for Easter. I don’t like that bit of fast and fancy footwork. But who am I to judge art in another church, or the artist doing the favor of repair? Hey, if my bathroom door were made of plaster, I might call this maintenance guy to help me out. In the meantime, the chewed-up bottom of our bathroom door adds some true distinctiveness to our home.