When we moved into our current apartment we were informed by our downstairs neighbor (a gem!) that there had been a leak in the roof that created a torrential gush of water that moved through our second-floor apartment to the ground floor. Walls were damaged, floors were soaked: it was a mess. Maintenance repaired the roof, tidied up all the impacted apartments and all was well.
A month or so after moving in, we noticed a pervasive mildewy smell in the kitchen. The new maintenance guy couldn’t locate the source at first, but he finally discovered it and replaced the impacted wood. A water stain on the ceiling in the adjacent bedroom (my office) was also noticed but deemed to be harmless.
In the movie version of this story, the music would begin to sound ominous.
There is a closet in my office that we open so rarely, our keyboard sits in front of it. It’s filled to the brim with the sorts of things we don’t use on a regular basis: decorations, tools, and sundry craft supplies. Three weeks ago, I opened the door, and the smell was powerful. The black stains on the ceiling told the rest of the story.
What followed was several maintenance folks looking at it, a promise that roofers have been called, sealant sprayed on the offending surface (that lasted a few days before the black bloom returned) and my sealing the closet off with plastic sheeting and tape.
Stuff like this happens all the time, doesn’t it?
How deep we go in terms of addressing a problem depends on our understanding of the situation as well as our resources. A major roof leak probably required bringing in professionals to not only seal the roof, but to make certain the space in-between was completely dry, but I also appreciate that this sort of armchair appraisal is much easier than making decisions that impact a bottom-line. The challenge is that some things need to be addressed or they will reappear – and often at times of stress.
Over the last fifteen months, the stress of the pandemic has surfaced other older issues in congregations and in society. Conflicts that were buried, misconduct that was ignored or hushed, and unresolved problems with leadership are beginning to break through to the surface. These old problems must be addressed. Replacing a few boards (or board members?), may have worked once or twice but will not solve the issue. Painting over the problem may have worked in the past, but an organization that keeps secrets will find it difficult to preach truth.
Disclaimer: the danger in using real-life, real-time anecdotes is that it
a) borders on the narcissistic
b) suggests you don’t get out much and
c) invites folks to offer assistance.
I’m hoping (a) isn’t true even if (b) certainly is. Please don’t worry about (c). I think things are now progressing appropriately.