The Mouse Colony


There once was a huge colony of mice that lived among the walls of a great Victorian home.    For generations those mice called those walls home, and they came and went as they wished.

When they were hungry, they would venture out into the kitchen and grab some cheese and scurry back.    When they felt like exploring they would choose one of the home’s many rooms and throw caution to the wind. 

 Life wasn’t terribly exciting, nor was it terribly risky, but they survived, and they survived for generations.

Sadly for the mice everything changed overnight.

The Victorian got a new set of tenants; a young family of four.   Along with the family came a very large and rather unfriendly cat named Felix.    With Felix making his home within the Victorian, the mice were thrown into disarray.

When a mouse wanted cheese, the trip across the tiled floor of the kitchen now grew exponentially riskier.   Many a mouse never made it back across the floor.   Felix seemed to always have the upper hand and it wasn’t long before the mice feared ever leaving the safety of the walls.

At first it was okay, there was plenty of room within the walls.    Yet as expected, life inside the walls quickly got boring.   They never saw the sun, because they were cowering in fear deep in the dark.    They never got much exercise for they were afraid to run free.   It wasn’t long before a whole generation came into being that had never tasted the freedom of the Victorian.

The depression and the despair of their new lives quickly started to get the better of them.   They started to argue more.   They started to fight.   Soon the walls of the Victorian seemed to be the unhappiest of places to live.

It was a day when fights were at every corner that the King of the Colony decided he had enough.    In rage, and with the full power of his throne, he ordered all the mice to assemble for a great meeting.

When they had, the King told his subjects that he was tired of living a persecuted life.   He wanted to live a better life, and he wanted the fighting to stop.    He decided right then and there, that all the attention of the greatest mice minds needed to be put to work on solving their Felix situation.

He promised the greatest cheese treasures to the mouse who could figure out a solution.

Many ideas came before the king, but none seemed right until the great professor, from the great mouse university, requested the presence of the King.

The professor was direct and to the point.

“The problem is a simple one,” the mouse said; “The cat can hear us coming for miles, and he is a smart cat.    The cat doesn’t run in and jump, but rather it sneaks.   It sneaks in so quietly that we turn and we are surprised.   There is never enough time or enough chance to survive”

The king assured the professor that he understood the situation and wanted to hear of his solution.

 “The solution is just as simple,” responded the professor; “Sneak up on the cat, and tie a bell around his neck.”

As soon as he uttered the words, a dead silence fell across the king’s court, as if they were considering the plan.   As the words set in, it wasn’t a long silence before the court erupted into cheers.   In an instant they were celebrating the wisdom of this one mouse.    The King ordered cheese to be brought before the professor and for the minstrels to play.    It wasn’t long before the professor was hoisted up upon the shoulders of his fellow mice and the whole colony began celebrating the professor’s genius.

Sadly the celebration was short lived.    In the midst of all the joy, an elderly mouse slowly wandered to the front of the king… and asked a simple question.

“Who will put the bell on the mouse?”

For the second time silence fell among the mice.    This time, however, the silence was heartbreaking.   Slowly, each mouse quietly took a step back, careful not to make eye contact with their fellow mice.  They knew that the mission was dangerous and risky, and more than likely a mouse or two might get hurt along the way.    As they tossed these thoughts in their heads, one by one the mice deserted the court and hid in their homes.

Eventually no one remained out.

It wasn’t long before they decided to do nothing.     The mouse colony still lives in the walls, and doesn’t venture out anymore.  They decided to do nothing and to live in fear of the cat.

As I consider this story I am reminded of a quote, that says, simply, “If you want to change the world…change.”* I think that too often we are like those mice.   There is so much we want to change and we want the world to be different, but we end up being afraid and scared to take a risk.   In the end we do nothing.   

We open our Bibles and hear of the promises of God’s Kingdom and we start to imagine what a world like that would look like.   We daydream about it.   We wish for it.    We come to church, in no small part, to show our commitment to it.    Yet, in the end, when the time comes we slink away, hoping not to make eye contact, and lock ourselves in our homes, instead of taking the risk.

I want to remind you that our faith calls us to step out, and do the risky things for God.    For you and I, it may be as simple as passing along an invitiation or as hard as standing up for something or someone that the rest of the world views as useless.

Too often we want change, but in our own lives we avoid that change at all cost.   I hope you embrace the reminder that God wants us to be people who risk all for Love, for Grace, for his children, and for Him.

*(Note:  I believe this is an often repeated  variant of the famous “Be the Change that you want to see in the world” from Ghandi, Picture by Brian Kellet, 2005-CCL)   
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