by Thom Fogarty and Micah Bucey
We learned of the following anecdote by way of friends at Judson Memorial Church in
New York City, involving Micah Bucey, Judson’s associate minister, and Judson
member Thom Fogarty, Artistic Director of 360 Repertory Theatre Company.
Thom tells the story, and Micah adds commentary at the end.
Micah met me for lunch today to debrief on the fabulous reading of Alyson Mead’s “The Quality of Mercy” and talk back we had at Judson last Saturday.
We are sitting in the lunch-time packed Waverly Restaurant and discussing race, sexism, religious leanings and the systems of institutionalized colonialism that are keeping all of us down and oppressed. And as those of you know me, my side will be colorful and explicit and bold.
So I am aware that there is what seems to be a family of tourists sitting next to us. After 40 minutes of this focused and lively conversation Micah asks for the check and goes to pay.
As soon as he does the woman, who is sitting right next to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, “I hope I don't offend you, but I am a conservative Christian from St. Louis here with my family and I could not help but overhear you two talking, and again I don't want to offend you”—and I'm thinking, O Shizzle!, she's gonna put me on blast for language or my anti-Christian views or our Black Lives Matters talk.
Instead, she continued, “It sounds like you two are planning really great things, and I want to say thank you and hope you keep doing it. These are the things I wish we could talk about, but it is so hard to be us and know that until we can know what others go through we can't truly be free people. Even our church walks a harder line than we do.”
Her husband smiled and nodded in agreement. Micah returned and we talked for another 10 minutes with them before we left. She got it. She feels it but grapples with living with it in her safe white world.
What a great feeling to know we can indeed be the movement. Just by talking. And listening. And bless her for speaking up.
Micah comments: It might sound trite to say such seemingly simple things (simplicity is radical in these complicated times), but change-making truly starts with personal connections, looking one another in the eye, getting over the hurdle of fear that often stalls these conversations, and agreeing to stumble through these murky topics together.
“In this age of un-friending, of only seeking news outlets that contribute to opinions we already hold, of flailing and screaming in our own silos, intensely-curious question-asking is a simple, radical act. It’s time we make an art of approaching uncomfortable moments with open-hearted appreciation for how, at our best, we are all attempting to melt down the systems that have oppressed for so long and meld them into something new. The melting and melding just take an initial bold move of bringing ourselves closer to the fire.”
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