Yesterday I caught a mouse. Today, as far as I know, that mouse is still alive and suffering. And I am feeling like a heartless monster.
After several hours of hearing scrapping noises in our den, my wife finally was perturbed enough to call me at church and ask me to come home and find out what was going on. Upon lifting up one particular chair, I noticed that the mousetrap I had placed behind that chair was missing. That, of course, was the clue I needed. So, I started looking for that trap and soon found it, hidden behind a magazine holder.
When I lifted the magazine holder out of the way, there was the trap, with a mouse caught by the leg. As soon as its hiding place was uncovered, the poor mouse took off on its three available legs, dragging the trap with it. Clearly, this was the sound that had so alarmed my wife. The mouse actually moved pretty quickly, under the circumstances. In fact, hampered as I was by the determination to insure that my hand didn’t come within biting range, he almost eluded me. He tried to run behind the TV stand, where I couldn’t get to him without moving heavy furniture. But his downfall was that he attempted, mouse-like, to go through a space that was plenty big for a mouse but too small for the trap. So, I had him.
But now, what to do with him? I was holding one end of the trap, with the mouse dangling from the other end. I’m sure I must have appeared to him to be a monstrous ogre, intent on his destruction. And, of course, that was the truth. The purpose of mousetraps is the destruction of mice. But they are supposed to be conveniently dead before I have to deal with them. This one was very inconveniently alive, and contorting its body so as to move toward my hand holding the trap. I felt I had to act quickly, so I had my wife give me some plastic bags into which I placed the trap and mouse. I then tied the bags and put the whole thing into a garbage can out in the garage. Out of sight, but not out of mind.
All night and into today I’ve been thinking about that mouse. At the least it probably has a broken leg, from which it must be feeling much pain. I don’t want that. I have no ill will toward mice (actually, I think these field mice are cute). I just don’t want them running around and contaminating my house. So, I set traps. But I was really disturbed last night, lying in my comfortable bed while a fellow creature, by my action, was suffering pain and destined for a lingering death. I have not been intentionally cruel, and even now I don’t know how else I could have handled it. But I wish it had not happened.
Perhaps there are deep theological implications to this type of situation. If so, I don’t feel like even trying to think them through. I’ve just been praying for the mouse, that it will not suffer too much and will die quickly.
And that I am not a monster.