Friday, January 25, 2013

Who You Gonna Call?

With my forty-fourth birthday past, I found myself awaiting the arrival of a requested gift.   The order was out, to an Amazon seller going by the moniker "General Electromagnetics," and yesterday, that box arrived.

You see, I've got this plan.

When I arrived at my wee kirk just a tick over a year ago, one of the first things I encountered was an interesting attitude towards the manse.  The manse...meaning the building where a pastor might live...predates the 1847 sanctuary by half a generation.  My office is there, as are classrooms for kids and the copy room.  It's a peculiar space.

It was built in 1827, and feels every one of those years.   A little research has shown that slaves lived in that house, which is a peculiar echo.  Depending on the stories you hear, soldiers may have lost their lives and/or had limbs amputated in that building following the nearby Battle of Ball's Bluff.  It's a building with a long memory, the echoes of war and human suffering woven deep into that old wood.

And buildings with memory are...interesting.

During the day, it's fine, if a bit on the ramshackle side.  But people aren't comfortable there after the sun sets.  Our part-time admin assistant would rather not step foot in it alone at night, not after that time she was sure she heard footsteps upstairs when no-one was in the building.  My Buildings and Grounds elder swears that the light to that old locked hidden room...the slave quarters above the kitchen...was turned off that one evening, but was back on again by morning.  Door was locked.  Light was off.  Most odd.  Soldiers who've done tours in Afghanistan have marveled at my willingness to be in the building by myself after dark.

Thing is, we need that dear old wreck.  It's going to take a sustained multi-year effort to get 'er painted and restored and repaired and insulated, but without those rooms, the church can't yet be what it needs to be.  So we're having a church auction on February 9th, of goods and services, to help with the restoration of this historic part of Poolesville.

To that auction, I'm already contributing Sunday afternoon motorcycle rides around the Ag Reserve, which are certainly worth something come the Spring.  Seriously.  There are few roads in America more beautiful than those around Poolesville for a bit of two-wheeled motoring on a day when the air is warm and sweet.  I've got an extra helmet and gloves, and that is priceless, my friends, priceless.

But I'm also planning on offering one particular service, for the discerning sponsor who sees value in it.  That service?  A bit of ghostbusting.  So for my birthday, I asked for and got some bona fide parapsychological kit.

I now own two electromagnetic field sensors, each targeted to a particular spectrum, for quantifying those moments the hairs on the back of your neck suddenly stand on end.  I now possess motion detectors, for the shades and flutterings of shadow on the periphery of your vision.  I've got an ambient temperature sensor, for those pesky free roaming vapors and their cold spots.

Real stuff, so far as that stuff is real.  And as a U.VA. graduate, well, one never knows what kind of training Mr. Jefferson's University might have provided to the discerning and the curious.

So come Spring, if the funds are raised at auction this expedition, I'll commit to spending a whole night in the manse.  I'll be there from sundown to sunrise, my array of sensors at the ready.  My sons...12 and 14...have sniffed the sweet smell of adventure, and volunteered to assist.

I'll liveblog it.  I'll tweet it.  I'll get the word out about it.

But wait!  If you act now, there's more!  I'll video it.  I'll prep an creepy and authentically amateurish Blair Witch Project-esque video for distribution on YouTube, laying out the history behind the building and chronicling the night's activities.

For the right donor, the right benefactor, the one who bids highest on this vital...VITAL...service to our church, I'll make sure you're mentioned at the very beginning of said YouTube video, in classic Public Television style.

And if we do pick up anything in the manse, well, then it'll be good having the Pastor deal with it.  We'll see if we can't clean it out a bit.  Assuming the liveblogs don't suddenly stop at midnight, that is.
"We had this crazy pastor one time.  Tried to stay in the manse all night, with his kids, see what was really goin' on.  All we found the next day was a shoe.  Don't even know whose, but Lord, it didn't even smell human anymore."
One advantage to having part time supply pastors, I guess.  Easier to replace 'em.