Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cheese Sunday: The Story of Church Mice and a Stomachache in a Steeple

A long time ago, in the Church of the Holy Apostles in the ancient city of Athens, not far from the Acropolis, lived ten rambunctious mice named Cheddar, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Brownie, Cookie, Banana, Nutmeg, Sugar, Apple, and Apricot. 

They each made their own nest in the rafters, hiding their favorite foods which were gathered from the church kitchen. Every Sunday the congregation enjoyed brunch in the Fellowship Hall after the service, and the mice never missed a meal.  

“Cheese Sunday is soon upon us!” Cheddar chattered in a high-pitched squeak, hoping for a cheese omelet. “I hate that horrid day! It’s the last Sunday before Lent. Then Father Joseph gets rid of all the cheese and eggs for six weeks. What am I supposed to eat until Easter? It’s not fair,” he clamored in a sing-songy voice of hopelessness.

“Well, we’ll just have to do something radical this year! We’ll go into the Fellowship Hall of the Church and take all the cheese on Cheese Sunday! We can stockpile it and ration it off for six weeks until Easter morning,” Cinnamon shrilled, sprinkling spice into the conversation. She always smelled a bit better than the other mice, which is how she got her name.

“Last year, we lived in the attic of the Jewish Deli for six weeks! Maybe we should have stayed there,” Blueberry sounded with a fruity flavor. Although he loved cheese, fruit was a close second, especially berries he could carry on his back. 

“But I do love this old church steeple. Its bell makes such a nice sound. I’d miss it so much,” Brownie squeaked with chocolate lips, finishing a melting ice cream sundae with nuts that she slid all the way from the church freezer. 

“Besides, the Jewish Deli served unleavened bread for days! It’s just so bland,” Cookie yelped, nibbling cake morsels. 

Of course, Cookie ate all kinds of desserts, but mostly he enjoyed every time cookies crumbled to the floor.

“We’ll get into the Fellowship Hall bright and early and steal the cheese and eggs during the service,” Banana scuffled. After eating bananas, she loved to take the old peels and slip and slide down the handrails of the church steps for fun.

“The nuns set up the meal before the church service, so we can take the cheese and eggs before it’s over,” Nutmeg scratched, moving along the beams in the rafters with the other mice. His nest was the coziest with a church pew pillow. 

“Cheese Sunday is also Forgiveness Sunday, so they can’t even be angry at us,” Sugar rasped, sniffing with pride. He could smell sugar from a mile away. If its scent was blown by the wind, he would pick it up for sure. 

“Maybe we should try to be polite and leave a note saying that we’re sorry for stealing the meal?” Apple groaned with his roly-poly belly full of one too many apple pies, apple cakes, apple dumplings, apple sauce, and candied apples. 

“Yes, and explain that we had no choice,” Apricot whisked, as she tried not to make too much noise in the church rafters. “How can anyone live without cheese and eggs for six weeks? It’s impossible to cut those things out of your diet.”

“It’s a tradition,” Cheddar peeped. “When no one’s looking, Father Joseph must hide a stack of cheese and eggs for himself with Muffin, his silly cat. How many times has Muffin chased me across the church? I almost lost my mouse tail!”

So, first thing in the morning on Cheese Sunday, the mice scurried down the church steeple into the Fellowship Hall. Muffin pranced between the nuns setting up the cheese and eggs, gobbling a boiled egg that rolled right into his mouth.

As the nuns finished setting up the special meal and slipped into the service, the mice set to work taking their bounty. By that point, Muffin had fallen asleep in the corner, snoring on top of a stack of dusty hymnals. 

“Hurry! The church service lasts only an hour!” Cheddar piped. “We have to take as much cheese and eggs as we can!”

Other than letting out long cat yawns, Muffin didn’t hear a thing. He was sleeping off the boiled egg. The ten church mice collected every last morsel of cheese and eggs and carried it to the rafters in the steeple. 

In their mouths and on their backs, they hoisted Camembert, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Feta, Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, Roquefort, Gouda, Colby Jack, and Mimolette, along with scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, soft-boiled eggs, poached eggs, deviled eggs, eggs sunny side up, spinach and ham omelets, egg salad, frittatas, quiche, and baked eggs. 

“We did it! We got the cheese and eggs!” Cheddar squealed, stacking the food in orderly rows next to the church bell.

Meanwhile, the congregation was beside itself, wondering what happened to its beloved annual cheese celebration.

“What happened to the Cheese Sunday banquet?” the nuns cried, as they found the Fellowship Hall disheveled. 

Tablecloths were on the floor, along with the knives and forks, and not one morsel of cheese or eggs was found at all.  

“This took us hours to set up this morning,” the nuns lamented. “What rotten person would steal from a church?”

“Muffin! Did you eat the cheese and eggs?” one of the parishioners asked, as Muffin woke up from his kitty nap. With drowsy eyes, Muffin meowed and ran into Father Joseph’s study and shut the door with his tail, leaving cat prints in the hall.

“This is Forgiveness Sunday,” the priest announced. “Maybe whoever took the cheese and eggs will ask for forgiveness?”

“Fat chance at that!” a second parishioner chided. “Maybe we could always gorge ourselves on donuts instead of cheese!”

“The point of Cheese Sunday is not to gorge yourself,” the priest continued. “We feast before our sacrifice at Lent.”

“Well, today there is no feast,” another parishioner complained. “It’s not fair. I waited all week for the cheese and eggs!”

“God Bless all of you!” the priest winced, ushering everyone home for the afternoon. “See you next week.”

As the nuns cleaned up the Fellowship Hall, the priest promptly marched into his study, grabbing Muffin. Then the two of them walked up the stairs to the bell in the steeple, looking for the naughty church mice.

“Where are you, Cheddar?” the priest called. “I know you have my cheese! No one else would be so obvious!”

When the priest reached the top of the steeple, the rebellious mice sat next to the cheese and eggs with guilty smiles. 

“Father, I already have a stomachache from the quiche,” Cheddar whined, admitting he ate too much cheese and eggs. 

Muffin jumped from the priest’s arms to pounce on Cheddar for making the congregation think the cat stole the cheese.

“Wait, Muffin!” Father Joseph scolded, as the church mice scurried away from the angry cat. “You can’t chase Cheddar and the other mice on Cheese Sunday! It’s almost Lent. At least we know where to find the cheese if I get hungry during Lent.” 

Then Father Joseph sat down next to the mice. With Muffin keeping watch, the priest ate his portion of the rationed cheese and eggs for the day, and every other day throughout Lent.

“After all, cheese tastes almost as good as forgiveness!” he laughed in a jovial voice. The church mice could do nothing but agree. 


Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

No comments:

Post a Comment