These are they which are unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, . . . (Leviticus 11:29 WEB)
After we arrived on Guam and established our home we explored the island. Sometimes a colleague, with years of experience on the island, would accompany us and tell us what was what. Other times, we were on our own to explore and discover.
Once I drove around Agana Park and noticed a large animal sitting next to a picnic table enjoying the leftover bits from a forgotten meal. A few seconds later I realized it was a rat, a big rat. He was so big he could sit on his haunches and still reach the top of the table. This was not a creature I wanted to meet in the middle of the night.
Outside of this unusually large rat there were a number of rodents out and about on the island. Twice I was unfortunate enough to encounter them one on one. The first was in our home.
My morning routine included waking up, taking a shower, eating something and heading to the office. The children were usually up and getting ready for school or already out the door and on their way before I moved. That was a routine morning.
I rolled out of bed and headed for our small bathroom and shower. Half awake I removed my clothing and stepped into the shower stall. Routine took over as I turned on the water and pulled the curtain closed behind me. In my early morning daze, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.
Glancing about I expected to find a hand towel on the floor of the shower. This hand towel moved, just a little, but enough to wake me quickly from my half slumber state. It was a rat! Not a big rat but a rat in my shower none the less.
I knew this was always a possibility. These nocturnal creatures often live in the sewers. When in searching for food they sometimes crawl up the drain pipes to a house and swim the short distance through the toilet trap into the house. This was supposed to happen in other homes, not mine!
Alert, wide eyed and ready for action my mind went into overdrive and quickly deduced it was time to exit the shower as fast as possible. Backing away from the frightened creature I exited the bathroom closed the door and put on my robe.
Beth was surprised when I walked briskly to the living room and demanded, “Where’s the cat?”
“There,” replied Beth wondering why I wanted the cat so early in the morning.
I grabbed the petite feline and made a beeline for the back bathroom. I opened the door slightly, tossed the cat inside, slammed the door, and left the diminutive cat to do her job, catch and kill the rat. The casual observer might have noticed the rat and the cat were about the same size!
I proceeded to gather my clothes and dress for the day. I wandered into the living room and looked for some missing piece of clothing. Suddenly the cat sprinted past my legs under the couch and out of sight. She was definitely the weaker vessel in this battle.
Beth continued to eye me as I wandered back to the bedroom and found the bathroom door open and the shower stall empty. The rat was out! Where? I didn’t know. Donning the remainder of my clothing I sauntered back to the living room.
Curiosity taking control Beth asked, “What was that all about?”
“There was a rat in the shower,” I reported as if it was the evening weather report.
“Where’s the rat now?” she asked with a quizzical look on her face.
“I don’t know,” I said with a tilt to my head. “The cat knocked the bathroom door open and the rat escaped into the bedroom.” I put my keys in my pocket, gathered my office papers and prepared for the day’s ministry.
“So what are you going to do about it?” she asked. Her attention was diverted momentarily by the vision of the cat poking her nose from under the couch watching for her new enemy.
“I’m going to work,” I announced. “When the children get home from school they can catch the rat. The creature will hide in the dark somewhere all day so you don’t have to worry.”
“You’re going to do what?” Beth asked incredulously.
“I’m going to work. My ride will be here shortly, I can’t find the rat without Joel and Ellice’s help so there’s nothing to be done this morning.”
Beth wasn’t sure. Her look told me I was skating on thin ice and the cracks were beginning to form under my blades. Before we could continue the conversation I heard Ray honk the horn and quickly scooted out the door and headed to the office.
Beth continues to remind me I was no knight in shinning armor that day. I left her to deal with the diminutive dragon hiding in the cave of our closet in the bedroom. I found out later she did laundry, cleaned house, and kept the bedroom door closed until the children returned home from school.
When Joel came home Beth commissioned him to find, catch and dispose of the intruder. He found his friend David and they went on the hunt. Using a special blanket, reserved for those who didn’t feel well, they bagged their quarry.
When I returned home Joel met me at the gate excited with his accomplishment. He guided me across the carport and pointed to a bucket covered by a piece of wood. Inside was the deceased rodent. Curious I asked, “How did you kill it?”
“We gassed it,” replied Joel proud of his work.
“With what?” I asked.
“With RAID,” he responded pointing to the empty can beside the death bucket.
I looked once more in the bucket to see the dying creature twitching its legs twice before collapsing in death. It wasn’t a pretty sight but I was glad the vermin was dead.
When the day was done the rat was in a bag in the trash and out of his misery, I was in the dog house for leaving the rat in our house and Joel was the hero of the day. Something tells me I didn’t handle that situation as well as I could have. Maybe that’s why God classifies rats as unclean.