August 29, 2020 David Mullens

Ode to a Mouse Nest

Ode to a Mouse Nest

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley". So true.

It is believed that Robert Burns composed the poem, "To a Mouse," while still holding on to his plow after plowing through a mouse's nest. He knew the mouse needed the nest to survive the winter. The mouse had planned well but to no avail.

The mouse had no way to foresee Robert, with his plow in hand, destroying his home. The line I quote above is from the original Scottish language poem, which is somewhat hard to understand. When translated the line becomes, "The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry."

So true.

In the Air

We cannot predict or foresee many of life's events. We can plan but strategy goes out the window when you get punched in the face (according to Mike Tyson). The fact that plans go awry is why I often say, "Sometimes we build the airplane while flying it!." Sometimes you have to at least get up in the air and assess the situation as it unfolds.

To be honest, I love it when a plan comes together. I cherish a finely crafted plan. I don't want to 'wing it' but I also realize no plan takes into account everything that can go 'awry'. So, you move forward and adapt.

The ability to adapt is not given enough credit. We love a plan coming together, but that works much better on TV and in movies than real life. At least, that's been my experience. John Steinbeck agrees:

“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

"We don't take a trip; a trip takes us." Yes, indeed...and our plans don't control circumstances.


What does all of this have to do with St. Paul? Just this. During this pandemic, the ability to adapt has been vital. We have no idea what's coming around the corner and what tomorrow may bring. While there was some indication of what we were facing in March, April, May, and June, each month brings with it a realization that we are not in control of the pandemic.

So, plans must be made knowing that they may (and perhaps will) be adapted. I want to thank all of you for being patient and encouraging as plans are made, and, many times, changed. It's hard living in uncertainty but that is where we are.

Has everything gone smoothly? No. We've had technical issues from time to time. We plan, but then the pandemic punches us in the face. Ian and our musicians have been great, planning, adapting, dealing with problems, learning, then adapting the plan.

Silver Linings

Aaron and I continue to discuss and attempt to find ways to help all of us at St. Paul to grow spiritually and keep us moving forward in mission. We don't want to view this pandemic only as a problem. We want to look deeper and find opportunities.

I'm encouraging you to use this time do draw deeper in relationship with Jesus. Instead of focusing on all we are missing, we can focus on what this "slow down" offers. I know some of us have had big life changes and we are doing things we didn't use to do, not doing things that we used to love to do, and being called upon to do things we never thought we'd have to do (such as teaching our kids/grand-kids).

In the midst of everything, there may be some time you can set aside in order to pause and connect with the peace that only Jesus brings. We get so focused on what's in front of us, that we forget about the one who is with us. When we keep Jesus at the center of our life, we find his peace is like an anchor for our soul. No matter what tries to punch us in the face, we can duck, jive, and navigate, never losing the sense of peace that Jesus gives.

In order to help you, we've created a new website We are still testing it, tweaking it, adapting it, but you are invited to sign up, explore the courses, connect with others, and be reminded that you are not alone. This is OUR (St. Paul's) website. There are no ads. I pray it will be a place where we can encourage each other, a shelter in the midst of the social media storm.

May you recognize God's blessings! May you discover his peace. May this time be a time of deeper connection with Jesus and others.