The spiders had, through the years, knitted a thick canopy under the roof of his 'bedroom' which protected him from the dust seeping between the tiles of the roof, or at least that was how he saw it. His love of Creation forbade him to disturb in any way the slightest insect and it was only under pressure of certain visitors that he would sometimes ask one of these to rid his living room od spiders' webs. There was no affectation at all in this respectful attitude of his towards insects : his attitude was one of simplicity and some amusement. He loved Creation and saw in it both the hand and the wit of God…
During a meal, he would point out to his guest the labour of a small spider who was building its web with astonishing method. Twice the spider undid its web and then reconstructed it according to a different plan, always with the same care. He explained that producing the web was, for the spider, an exhausting physical task and that it would save the string of the web for as long as possible : and yes, the spider would roll up the string of the web into a ball under its chest each time it undid a web. It was out of the question to disturb the objects which it used as a base during these operations….
At Rosny-sous-Bois he tolerated a family of mice who had chosen an old wood stove as their home, one with windows of Muscovy glass, of the sort that were used in the post-war years before the days of central heating. It was a narrow, square stove, rather high, and equipped with small windows whose mica had long since disappeared. As long as the mice inhabited it he never used the stove. One could see them sticking their noses out of the stove's windows and coming out of the upper vent left open for this purpose, and then coming to eat the pieces of bread which Father Thevenon had left for them, without the slightest fear. « It's their Council House », he would say, and indeed the stove did resemble that sort of human lodging.
At the time of the severe cold of January 1985, rats devoured the bindings of a number of his books. « They eat the glue of the bindings », said Father Thevenon, « you must understand them, they are starving ! » All he did was to put the books into metal trunks and to feed the rats outside his house.
He loved to observe the flights of wild geese in the spring and fall: "today I saw three flights of wild geese who were flying north-east towards the Baltic and the northern tundra. Each V-formation numbers about 120 birds. I find these migrations to be rather extraordinary and moving. That old fool MONOD would say that it is Chance and Necessity "(March 1988)
Everything filled him with wonder. He noticed the two notes of the cuckoo's song : « at dawn on Sunday March 29 I heard the cuckoo. He came back early….normally, he comes around the 8th or 10th of April. The cuckoo is a strange bird whose song always consists of two notes, one a third of a bar higher than the other. Which is surely due to "Chance and Necessity!" (1998)
One year he was assailed by fleas who devoured his arms and neck, yet he didn't seem to suffer from it at all. Noticing the appalled look of a visiting friend, he spoke to him at length of Saint BENOIT LABRE who accepted his vermin the way Christ had accepted sinners, and who, because of his love for the Crucified Christ, replaced these parasites on his wounds when they would move away from them.
He owned two dogs. The first was called Toby and the second Le Benin. Toby came with him from the Paris suburbs to his hermitage in the Sarthe area. Toby had a strong personality which greatly amused Father Thevenon, especially when some grump was its victim. The second dog, Le Benin, was a poor creature whom Father Thevenon had saved from misery. Le Benin's attachment to his master was touching. The death of these two companions was for Father Thevenon a real sorrow and trial.
Then, little by little, he received the visit of a group of more or less wild cats whom he fed. When he would go away on a trip he would see to it that a neighbouring peasant fed them. Each one of them had a name: Gray, Tiny
, Misery, etc. Father Thevenon could describe the personality and habits of each one.
In springtime the surroundings of the house would fill up with birds: blackbirds, chaffinch, blue tits, and nightingales which flitted about in every direction and livened up the place with their symphony. Father Thevenon loved this and would tape his lectures outside so as to use the birdsong as a soundtrack.
He loved cows for their placid nature. "It cures us of the neurosis of all the pseudo-intellectuals", he would say, "I wonder how we could tolerate them all without our cows."