This past Saturday, I performed at a storytelling event sponsored by the Sisters of Saint Francis and the Great Midwestern Educational Theatre Company, telling the story here. I've been working with a writing coach for more than two years, and I'm a better teacher for the effort. I've also put together writings that will allow my children to know me better as they become adults. But part of getting people to read my writings is to first introduce them to me---through teaching and performances. Last January, I helped Amy Ressler teach a storytelling class at UD. Being around a professional is an amazing opportunity. I also take whatever opportunities pop up to get up in front of a crowd, whether it be 2 or 200.
I've gotten better, but I still struggle with some of my own baggage. As is often the case when I talk about New Orleans, I got pretty choked up at a few points:
When Hurricane Katrina was blamed on a gay parade by San Antonio pastor John Hagee. Such ignorance and hatefulness aren't my ideas of legitimate Christianity. When Jesus spoke to the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), he didn't call down targeted lightning, must less a widespread hurricane that killed 1,833 people, mostly poor, old, and minority.
When I talk about revisiting my old house after the hurricane. I had sold it by then, but I had a lot of memories from living there---my children playing, geology students coming to parties, Thanksgiving celebrations, a Chinese grad student learning to barbecue on the grill I built, and screech owls nesting in the backyard tree. Lots of good times.
At the end, when I quoted St. Francis: "We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way."
But despite a few tears, I made it through. I beat myself up a bit, but mostly I'm glad I keep trying. Sr. Shell, the nun who arranged to host the event, wrote me, "THANKS! I absolutely loved your `Finding Francis' story! And the rest of the audience did as well. " Sr. Shell is kind, which I knew already, but that doesn't make it any less pleasant to hear.
"You look like Walter White," a new student told me a while back. At that time, I didn't know who Walter White was nor had I ever seen Breaking Bad. Recently, on a trip to New Mexico, a friend bought me a postcard-license for Walter White, shown above. I did a bit of alteration and sent the new license by email to campus security to put on file. I guess it worked, because I never heard back from them.