“…Son, I don’t think you’re going to make it…”--Roger Talton
I was 6 Months in. I was hired as a Curate, an Assistant Pastor in the Episcopal Church. The Rector, the Senior Priest, was this guy named Roger Talton. Roger was in his late 50s. He had over 30 years of experience on me. Roger was known as this buttoned up, rigid guy. He walked like a penguin. I just knew he had a stick up his ass.
Roger summoned me to his office over the parish intercom system. I knocked on his door and waited for a response. I heard a voice on the other side of the door shout “…Come in…” I opened the door. Roger was seated behind his mahogany desk. “…Come in. Come in…” he barked in his deep baritone voice. “…Sit down…” I sat down. Roger was rocking back in this larger-than-necessary-for-the-size-of-his-little-shitty-office black leather chair. That chair was about the size of my studio apartment in upper Harlem. Roger leaned forward, his arms folded over each other and his elbows on his desk. He looked me dead in the eyes, serious as a fucking heart attack and, in the most condescending tone, said to me “…Son, I don’t think you’re going to make it. You don’t suffer fools lightly…”
I was sharing this experience the other day with this Cat named Mark. Mark is local powerbroker. He is in his early 40s. He’s African American and extremely well connected in the community for his age and race. I’ve been rolling with Mark for a few months. I’m helping him with his City Council Election Campaign. He’s supposed to be helping me find money for the Bright Futures Initiative. We were talking about being patient with people when I decided to share this experience. I said “…Bro. Let’s be clear. I don’t suffer fools lightly…” I realized as we were talking, I had internalized that shit Roger said years ago. I bought that bull shit he said. I believed that shit about this character trait disqualifying me from pastoring. I bought the shit this meant I wasn’t something I was supposed to be. After more than thirty years, I catch this shit. I believed this shit. But this not suffering fools lightly ain’t no damn shortcoming. This is my shit. This is the fucking wound where the light enters.
Mark and I were meeting with a prospective client for the Bright Futures Initiative. This Cat was all up in my shit about the work: Who was I? Where did I come from? How long had I been in the community? How did this initiative gain access to local high school students? How did I meet Mark? Was there any evidence-based data on this program? Blah Blah Blah…
We’re driving away from the car dealership when Mark says to me “…that guy always does that. Starts with funding decisions being a family decision that must be reviewed by the entire family. Then, he blames not being able to support causes on family resources already being allocated. Next, I find he’s supporting a cause that started last week…” I responded “…son of a bitch. Now you tell me that shit? I spent the last 45 minutes putting up with that asshole and his third-degree bull shit for nothing. Man give me a fucking break.
The vision for this initiative is to get these young people in front of the most powerful and connected people in this community. People who are willing to help mentor and coach them up. Bro, my work here ain’t to suffer with assholes like that or tolerate their bull shit if they ain’t “…showing this work the money…” I ain’t here to take grief off them fools. I have neither the time nor the energy for that shit. They either show me the money for this work or my blackass is getting in the wind. That’s my deal. That’s the work here Bro…” Mark said “…I hear you. Here’s what I got for you. I don’t care what Roger thought of your pastoral gifts. You bring that same energy and commitment to everything you do for these young people, and you’ll be a blessing to them. I think you just renewed your Calling…” Over thirty damn years to get over seeing this shit as a shortcoming. Thirty years to get to this Calling. Now, ain’t that some shit.
Read more about the Hunter story In These Rooms.
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