Yesterday afternoon as the kids and I got home from school and work, we were plunged into the depths of tragedy.
Ten-year-old Laura's pet mouse, Cheese, was missing from his cage.
Cheese is the more gregarious and adventurous of the two pet mice in our household. Matthew's black-with-white-face-and-chest rodent is named Tuxedo, and even though he looks like he's dressed to go out, he never does. He stays in his little purple igloo bubble within his cage and only exercises on the wheel at night.
But Cheese likes to be held, is up at all hours (between naps), and has been known to squeeze through the grille on the top of his cage to go out exploring.
It looked like he had made that mistake, and that there had been a struggle with one of our three cats. (Don't ask why Angi let our children buy mice and cages and wheels and bedding and food when we have three cats. I had warned them both that when a cat sees a mouse, she usually thinks: "Snack!")
Laura was distraught. She wailed, and I comforted. She searched, and I searched. We found nothing. No remains, no tiny drops of blood, nothing.
She was pretty much inconsolable all evening, though I managed to coach her through homework.
Then, right after her bath and just before bedtime, she began wailing again. I met her halfway down the hall and understood her to say, between sobs, "I ... just ... saw ... Cheese!"
Fearing the worst, I followed her to her room, trying to calm her down. Then she said, "I saw him under the bed ... and over there ... and over there!"
Well, that changed matters a bit. I wondered briefly if she was hallucinating, but she had never displayed any truly hysterical behavior like that before. Within a few minutes (and after closing the door to the cats), we both spotted him: a flash of white fur with black spots, darting between toys and boxes on the floor. In a moment, I had him boxed in and presented him to Laura.
She spent the rest of the evening snuggling that mouse and telling me "Thank you!"
I mean that, literally. She must have told me "Thank you, Daddy!" and hugged me a couple dozen times.
Maybe there's no real moral or point to telling this, but I couldn't help but think of Jesus' comment between the telling of the stories about a lost coin and a lost sheep recovered, and the return of a prodigal child: "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
I understand the concerns of folks who feel uncomfortable when people clap after a baptism, or when they repeat aloud their praises and thanksgivings when a child of God is born again.
But I wonder if what's actually happening in heaven is a lot of dancing and high-fiving and hollering and singing all at the same time - every time a reborn face breaks the surface of the water and his eyes are opened and he begins to seek his God.
Shouldn't the rest of us be saying, "Thank you, Daddy!" over and over and over again?