Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barry McCauley

On Tuesday I attended a memorial service for a man I never met named Barry McCauley. Barry had been a student at Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM), one of the nine sister-seminaries of the GTU. I attended because I take ecumenical community organization very seriously; I have two friends who were deeply affected by his death and I wanted to be there as a supportive witness to them, but I also wanted to let the SKSM community know that I support them as a whole.

I knew that I would be emotionally affected by the memorial, certainly, but I was unprepared for just how deeply. Toward the end of the service there was an open space for people to share memories of Barry; the stories I heard about this beautiful man were simply a joy to experience. I was moved by the Spirit to speak, and I told the group that I was in an unusual position because my memories of Barry began with his memorial but that I wanted them to know that Barry's spirit is so powerful that a person he never met was moved to tears by the love in the room.

The two points of the memorial which touched me the most deeply were 1) when an SKSM student spoke of how Barry made her feel what it would've been like to be friends with Jesus during his mortal life more than any single person she has ever met, and 2) when someone read a journal entry Barry wrote that focused on his sadness at the pain his white friends live with as allies of him as a black man. The very concept that a person of color "gets it" re: the narrative of the white ally... there are no words sufficient to express the gratitude I felt, hearing this man's words.

Several folks commented on how Barry was an incredible mix of lovingkindness and lion-like passion for social justice, how it was in his nature to challenge people to grow and rise up to the call of building a better world. I ask God for the strength to be worthy of the call expressed by Barry McCauley -- a man I never met, who inspires me. From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Galatians 6:17-18) αμήν

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