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It was raining hard in east San Diego County that night. About 10
miles outside of Ramona, Calif., a security guard for the local
timeshare resort had called out sick. Since I was one of the owners of
the security company, and we couldn’t find a replacement, I had to fill
in.

The main office of the Ramona Oaks Resort & Racquet Club was at the
bottom of a slopping hill. The clubhouse, pool and tennis courts were at
the top of the hill. In the summer you could hear the coyotes yapping.
There were also rabbits and road runners nearby.

But on that cold and rainy night I did not see any rabbits, coyotes
or road runners. What I saw and felt was a lot of water, and a gusting
wind that crippled my umbrella. Every hour of that night I walked up the
hill to check the pool and the clubhouse.

It was 3 o’clock in the morning when I walked up the hill for the
fifth time. My boots were making a squishing sound with every step. The
downpour was torrential and staying dry was out of the question.
Reaching the clubhouse, I passed through a side gate to check the pool.
My eye caught something in the water. It was a small shape swimming
directly toward me. It zipped across the water with a surprising
urgency. I walked to the edge of the pool and looked down. Just below my
feet was a little brown mouse, his little paws pleading for a way to get
up out of the swimming pool into which he had fallen.

Mice are usually terrified of human beings. If you disturb their
hideout, they scurry away. At the same time, humans have been known to
shriek in panic at the sight of a mouse. Admittedly, it’s a bit
unnerving to see a little brown shape racing along the floor of your
kitchen, disappearing behind the refrigerator.

There is a natural barrier between mouse and man. But on this cold
and rainy night the barrier came down. A very wet and tired mouse
understood that he was going to die if a human being did not rescue him.
And there he was, in the water, looking up at me, pleading for his
little life. There was no telling how many minutes he’d been treading
water.

I felt sorry for the mouse, so I walked over to a bush and snapped
off a little branch. I then set the branch in the water, at the edge of
the pool, in front of the mouse. He clutched it as I pulled him onto the
deck. His little lungs were inhaling and exhaling rapidly. His whole
body was quivering with exhaustion. He had been at the end of his
strength.

But the little mouse did not wait long, despite his lack of strength.
He crawled toward me, laid his head on my boot and hugged me with his
paws. This gesture was so human and so unexpected. Seeing his little
forearms wrapped around the front of my boot I realized he was grateful.
“Thank you, thank you,” he was saying. I could not bear to shake him
loose, though I was standing in the cold rain, soaked to the bone.

The normal barrier between mouse and man was gone. We were two of
God’s creatures brought together by unusual circumstances. The little
mouse was saved, and the man was touched by the animal’s display of
gratitude.

After a few minutes I lifted my boot an inch, but the little mouse
would not let go. I waited another minute or so, then carefully shook
him loose and said goodbye. He took off into the bushes as I walked back
through the gate and down the hill to the warmth of the main office.

The Christmas season is about giving and receiving. Not everything
has the same significance for the giver as for the receiver. My
assistance to the mouse was a small thing for me, but it was a big thing
for the mouse. Sometimes our gifts to others are like this. And in the
act of giving we form a special relationship.

The above story is absolutely true.

Merry Christmas!

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