What I'll bring home is:
A sense of renewal.
A really beautiful mobile for the new preschool room.
Great joy at getting to witness my son in his home church--the "First UU Church of GA-ville".
Some fabulous books.
Some new things to do in leading worship--maybe not throwing a ball, but hey--we dropped balloons from the balcony a few weeks ago--anything is possible.
And a commitment to bringing race and ethnicity into the conversation in working with our RE Committee and in our teacher training. The truth is that with 125 kids I am not often in direct contact with all the kids, so it's a training issue in the weekly implementation. I am white, and I've really struggled with bringing a strong message about race into the program-I realize that I really don't "Get It" about what a person of color experiences. I know I'll never really know. I am white. I live white. I know that I cannot possibly know what it feels like to be anything else.
But I think I might know a tiny grain of something. Here's the story:
The day after the Fahs Lecture by Dr. Mark Hicks entitled: "Religious Education for People of Color" I was having dinner with a friend who mentioned that she'd checked in with a member of her congregation about Mark's charge that we go out into our churches and bring race into the conversation. She mentioned a family from her congregation that has a trans-racially adopted child. She had asked--following the lecture-- if they'd like to have race and ethnicity be touched on at their church. They said "no." They didn't want their child singled out, and they didn't expect church, certainly, to deal with race. After all, they expressed, they don't think she experiences racism.
I am sure that I know so little about race that I don't even know what I don't know. But this is absolutely untrue. I share my life with a trans-racially adopted man--my dear husband. And yes, you may say, things are different now 40 some years after he was adopted. Maybe. Maybe that's true--maybe that's what I don't know. But actually I do know. Things may be different but they're not that different.
Race is real and present in the lives of our children. What my husband has told a very few white people (because he'll say, you don't say this to white folks) is that you never tell your white parents. You hide it as fast and as far as you can, you even try to hide it from yourself. Because it is a horrible and shaming experience and you don't want anyone to know what has happened to you.
I mean here--replace race with gay/lesbian/trans/bi or gender identity and see what you get. They didn't want their child singled out, and they didn't expect church, certainly, to deal with "sexual orientation" or "gender identity". After all, they expressed, they don't think she experiences "homophobia" or "transphobia". No Way.
And then...buying t-shirts and bumper stickers for my two teenaged sons who are not here I asked what I thought was a simple question to one of the exhibitors here. My sons back home are both black belts in Tae Kwon Do. They have a great Korean master who has been a wonderful mentor as they are growing into men. But they've also read and studied the work of Bruce Lee--a hapa man also from Seattle with whom the feel a connection and who has written some very deep and philosophical teachings that have meant a great deal to them.
I asked, "Do you have anything with a quote by Bruce Lee?" this man replied "Like 'I am Kato' or 'The Green Lantern'" I was so mad I thought I'd spit in his face (and screw compassion for his racist ignorant soul).
So yeah, work to do. Not just in classrooms, but throughout the faith.
Do we have "Building the World We Dream About" for Kindle? Maybe this is what I need to read on my way home.
Safe home all my UU friends! Thanks for a lovely GA!