At least a week ago my wife came up to me and said, “Do you smell that? It smells like something may have died under the guest bedroom. I mean, it may be a mouse or something under the bed, from the cat, but I think it’s under the house.” I took note of the stench but felt like she was overreacting a bit.
In many respects, people who have greater sensitivities are prone to suffer more. In the religious realm, prophets are more sensitive, and they wail and bemoan the issues of religious life, long before others sense them. In the political and social sphere, this is so often the work of activists. In the Villegas house, insofar as noses are concerned, it is my Beloved’s job.
It has been said that I will eat anything. That is not far from the truth. Long ago, I stopped paying attention to my taste buds as much as I once did, insistent that if my standards are lower, I will have a more enjoyable life. And yet, I have profound respect for those with high standards, those who can pay attention to their noses, picking up the slightest aberration. Mine Own, I have jokingly said, is the human equivalent of a blood hound.
So, when she told me that something was afoul in or around the guest bedroom, I should have believed her. Like so many other pastors, I told myself that I was too busy to make it a priority. I put it on my “to do” list, deciding to ask others for help.
We live in a parsonage, the church-owned home designated for the pastoral family. Fifty years ago, when our church standards were written, most-every rural church had a well-furnished home for the pastor, and the most illustrious women of the church were on the parsonage committee, and their husbands were owners of small businesses, like building companies, that could fix any problems.
Today, the United Methodist denomination is shrinking, and few churches have fully active parsonage committees. So, the congregation that owns our house, being full of awesome people, had to ask around a little bit, before finding exactly what to do with the smell in the house.
At Church, after Sunday worship, a full week into the smelliness, a small group of us stopped and discussed possibilities. We settled on a well-known group of handymen in town, who could fit into most-any space and fix most-any issue. And yet, when I got home, I thought of the Church’s financial struggles, and realized that I might be able to save them some money, if I was able to locate the source of the smell.
With the determination of an explorer and the inexperience of a child cleaning his room for the first time, I put on a headlamp, gardening gloves, a small hoodie that exposed my lower back. And then I put on my boots, as I walked outside to find my way under the house.