Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker

S3 E2 | Living into the Really Real with Micha Boyett

June 23, 2020 Micha Boyett Season 3 Episode 2
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E2 | Living into the Really Real with Micha Boyett
Chapters
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E2 | Living into the Really Real with Micha Boyett
Jun 23, 2020 Season 3 Episode 2
Micha Boyett

How can we talk about race and disability without conflating the two? How can white, able-bodied, neurotypical people enter into this conversation? What is the difference between “white fragility” and being vulnerable? What is the connection between contemplation and activism? Amy Julia talks with author, podcaster, and advocate Micha Boyett today about all these questions and more. 

Show Notes

Follow Micha Boyett online:

Micha also co-hosts a podcast called The Lucky Few, with Heather Avis and Mercedes Lara. I mention that Micha is a poet and studied with Mary Karr. I reference last week’s podcast episode: S3 E1 | Waking Up to Privilege with David Bailey. We talk about Jean Vanier’s book Becoming Human and our sorrow over the sexual abuse perpetrated by Vanier. We mention Fr. Richard Rohr and his phrase “the really real,” and his prayer for “one good humiliation a day.” Why the phrase “all lives matter” is problematic and some of the warning signs of gaslighting. We talk about White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo. We mention The Rule of St. Benedict and mention Micah 6:8 from the Bible. Finally, here is my favorite podcast episode on The Lucky Few: Friendship Pt. 2 with Guest, Melynn Henry.

This podcast season is called White Picket Fences, and it is based on my book White Picket Fences: Turning Towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege. Learn more about White Picket Fences! Also check out free RESOURCES to accompany White Picket Fences—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond.

Show Notes Transcript

How can we talk about race and disability without conflating the two? How can white, able-bodied, neurotypical people enter into this conversation? What is the difference between “white fragility” and being vulnerable? What is the connection between contemplation and activism? Amy Julia talks with author, podcaster, and advocate Micha Boyett today about all these questions and more. 

Show Notes

Follow Micha Boyett online:

Micha also co-hosts a podcast called The Lucky Few, with Heather Avis and Mercedes Lara. I mention that Micha is a poet and studied with Mary Karr. I reference last week’s podcast episode: S3 E1 | Waking Up to Privilege with David Bailey. We talk about Jean Vanier’s book Becoming Human and our sorrow over the sexual abuse perpetrated by Vanier. We mention Fr. Richard Rohr and his phrase “the really real,” and his prayer for “one good humiliation a day.” Why the phrase “all lives matter” is problematic and some of the warning signs of gaslighting. We talk about White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo. We mention The Rule of St. Benedict and mention Micah 6:8 from the Bible. Finally, here is my favorite podcast episode on The Lucky Few: Friendship Pt. 2 with Guest, Melynn Henry.

This podcast season is called White Picket Fences, and it is based on my book White Picket Fences: Turning Towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege. Learn more about White Picket Fences! Also check out free RESOURCES to accompany White Picket Fences—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond.

Note: This transcript is generated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Speaker 1 (0s): Hi, this is Amy Julia Becker. I am the host of the love is stronger than fear podcast. And we are here today to talk again about white picket fences with my guest and friend Micah boil. Yet, I'm going to let her tell you about who she is as a mom and as a writer and as an advocate for people with down syndrome. But one thing she doesn't mention, and I didn't mention on this interview is that Micah also is a poet. She in fact has a master's of fine arts in poetry. She studied with Mary Carr, and I think that if you listen carefully to what she has to say, that poetic sensibility can really pull beauty and truth together on a deep level is just woven through this conversation. 

It's something I so appreciate about who Micah is. So I hope you will sit back or continue doing the dishes or whatever it is you do when you listen to podcasts, but just enjoy the richness and the depth of this beautiful human being who is here with me today to talk about race and class and privilege and disability and what it means to be human beings who are living into the really real hi Micah. It's so fun to see you from across the country. 

Speaker 2 (1m 22s): Yes. Hi friends. 

Speaker 1 (1m 23s): Glad you're here. I wanted to start just by asking you to tell a little bit about yourself as a writer, as a mom and as an advocate. So will you just introduce yourself a little bit? 

Speaker 2 (1m 34s): Yes. Hi, I'm Micah <inaudible>. I am a mom of three boys. I live in San Francisco. My boys are 12, nine and five, and my youngest son ACE has down syndrome. I'm married to Chris, I'm a writer. So I've written one book found that is a memoir of the early season of my life as a mother. And it's a lot about the questions of purpose and what it means to be connected to God in the midst of uncertainty and the chaos of motherhood. 

And really just kind of figuring out who I was as a mom. And so that's, that was, that came out five years ago. 

Speaker 1 (2m 21s): So did that come out right before ACE was, 

Speaker 2 (2m 24s): Yeah. Right. The phrase was born. Yes. So it's really follows the first couple of years with my oldest son. Who's now 12, right. And also our move to San Francisco from the East coast and my leaving full time ministry to stay home with him and all those questions of purpose and value. And great. 

Speaker 1 (2m 44s): So tell us about, I mean, you also have become a podcaster in more recent years. Will you tell us a little bit about that? 

Speaker 2 (2m 53s): I'm a cohost of a podcast called the lucky few. And as I said, my, my youngest son ACE has down syndrome and listeners, believe it or not. Amy, Julia and I were friends before that. It's true <inaudible> syndrome that makes us love each other. But yes, my son ACE has down syndrome. And about three years ago, I was able to start with two other women, moms of kids with down syndrome, a podcast that advocates for people with down syndrome and also supports people who love someone with down syndrome. 

So we cover all the topics from, you know, cool things that are happening in the down syndrome and disability communities to, you know, schooling needs and health needs. And we do a lot of interviews with people and 

Speaker 1 (3m 48s): Yeah, I've loved many of them. I tune in, especially when I see words like puberty, because my daughter, penny is 14, but I've also just loved. You guys have really covered such a wide spectrum of topics. It's really awesome. So thank you for that. And I know you are somewhat filled in on what I'm doing here, but I have just been starting this new season of my podcast. And for the first time actually interviewing people, it's all going to be in relation to white picket fences, which I know you've read. 

And last week I interviewed a friend of mine whose name is David Bailey. And David is a Christian man. He's a black man who lives and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. His job is working to help churches become reconciling communities. So we had a conversation about race, and we talked about that in the context of American history, current events, and the local events in Richmond that include the toppling of Confederate monuments. And today we're having a different conversation. 

So I expect that race and some of the current events around the protests that have been going on across the nation. I heard today, actually that in 2000 towns and cities across the nation, there have been protests in the past few weeks, which is pretty unprecedented, but I wanted to move on, not pass the conversation of race, but to involve also a conversation about disability and identity, because that obviously is something that you and I have both thought a lot about. 

And just in white picket fences, the first chapter is called life is a gift and really talks about my experience as a mom of a child with down syndrome. So I'm talking with you as another white person who is a mom and who has a child with down syndrome. And I want to acknowledge just right up front that neither of us will ever personally know what it is like to be black or to be a person of color in this country. And one of the things I want to talk about, and I feel like I want to be really careful about is not to create a false equivalence between disability and race. 

I think I've kind of tripped up in that way in the past, and they're not the same at the same time for me having a child with down syndrome has been transformative. And in part of that is because having a child who is more on the margins of our society than I have ever been personally because of her disability has helped me get at least a window into the experience of being considered on the margins in our society. So with all of that in mind, I just wanted to invite you to join me today, to talk about identity and faith and disability and privilege and wherever this conversation leads, that's what I want to have frame it. 

So I'd really love to start just in talking a little bit about ACE, like who is he? And you can, within that, I'd love to hear about his diagnosis and birth story, but I just also want to get a little picture, which actually I'm going to say, people also can find if they want to follow you on social media, Instagram in particular, they can get lots of pictures of ACE. 

Speaker 2 (6m 56s): Oh yeah. Oh yeah, they can, 

Speaker 1 (6m 60s): But yeah. Will you just tell us about him and also about your just kind of journey as a mom phrase? 

Speaker 2 (7m 6s): Yes. Well, ACE is a little blonde boy. Like the cutest little, he was born with like the cutest pumpkin head. You could ever imagine just like perfect little circle. ACE has both down syndrome and autism and the autism piece is fairly new in our lives. He was diagnosed in, in the fall in September. And so that has made his journey a little bit different than a lot of the families I know in the down syndrome community. 

But I will, I'll kind of take you back to that. The diagnosis story for us, as I said, Amy, Julia and I were friends before ACE came around and I knew penny and we had connected as writers writing similar spaces. And I went to my 20 week ultrasound with ACE and they found one marker for down syndrome. And so I went ahead and took the blood test. 

I had grown up with a good friend and neighbor who had down syndrome and she was a really formative part of my childhood. And I sort of had always pushed back on the idea of prenatal testing because I loved my friend Carrie. And I felt, I felt like it would be a joy to have a child with down syndrome. And I don't think I was prepared for it. The whiplash of grief that came when I got the prenatal diagnosis. 

I think I kind of saw myself as a person who would be like, I receive everything like I'm here for it. I w and so I was, I was so not necessarily, I didn't really think that I, if they had said to me like, Oh, this marker that we see, it's like a one in 476 chance that your child has down syndrome. And early, earlier, earlier, like in the, when they saw the marker on the ultrasounds. 

And so I waited two weeks for this blood test and didn't, I, even though I had a tinge of fear about it, I was not so worried that I, I took the phone call by myself, pushing my kid in a stroller to gymnastics class. Like we, I, it, we were just, I just took the phone call. And so I have that memory of hearing the news that my son would have down syndrome as I'm walking through this park with my three year olds. 

And just that, like the sky tunneling in the feeling of just, I, it just was unreal and getting to gymnastics and folding up the stroller and taking my three-year-olds shoes off and getting them in the line and sitting down on the bleachers to watch and just, you know, becoming the woman who's weeping in the corner, on the bleachers. And I called my husband, and then I called you, I remember him. 

And I mean, I, and you were the one who walked me through that day, which I am always, I will always be grateful for that day. And I think just the, I just needed a handhold. Yeah. So look at us. There's listeners, you can't see the tears in our heads. Yeah, 

Speaker 1 (10m 41s): No, it's a, one of the actual to use a word that might have does have multiple meanings, but one of the great privileges of my life is actually the fact that I get to talk to women who are looking at a prenatal diagnosis or a postnatal diagnosis and have all of those big feelings because there's, and actually that's part of this chapter in the book, like there's so much love, and there's so much fear. And those don't usually layer themselves on each other quite so closely, at least in my experience. 

And, and I think that, that for me, it feels like a really Holy place to be able to enter into and just be present with people. And, you know, I think both of us have spent a lot of our time in public trying to let people know not, Oh, I 

Speaker 2 (11m 37s): Think it was perfect and our families, 

Speaker 1 (11m 39s): But at the same time, you can imagine a good life with a child with down syndrome like that. We can show pictures and tell stories and be real about our lives. And, you know, penny is nine years older than ACE. And so, and they're not the same, they're not the same little people at all, but at the same time to be a few steps ahead, as far as yeah. Here's what it was like. It's just, it's an honor to be able to share that story. 

Speaker 2 (12m 5s): Yeah. And it's been a gift to me, for sure. For sure. 

Speaker 1 (12m 8s): So tell us a little bit about what ACE has brought to your life and your family and, and yeah. Who he is, whether that's gifts, challenges, what makes him smile? What makes him cry, who he is? 

Speaker 2 (12m 23s): ACEs a, he loves hugging. He is, he is a, he loves his brothers very much. He loves to watch things go. So he's, he's sitting on the floor and he has a little ball and a little marble run sort of ball run thing. And he's just watching the ball go down over and over and over right now, ACEs, he loves music and he can be really upset. 

But if, if like, let it go comes on. He's, he's all in. And he will move straight into singing and holding the note. So ACE is a, you know, I think that the question as we are here to talk about privilege and what we've seen and learned through our children with disabilities, I think for me, it's, I'm, I've had an ongoing, like, it's almost been like an elevator ride down and down and down in the sense of like going deeper into the realest real. 

And, and I, you know, I've written about contempt, contemplative practices for a long time and prayer. And that was what I was writing about before ACE was born. But I had lived my life as a performer, as someone who was able to accomplish things and then win awards. And, and that was how I also saw my spiritual life as like I'd spent my life pleasing the grownups and God was the ultimate grownup. 

And you know, what metal was God going to give me? And even though that was like way underneath, you know, that was ego. That was like, I would not have confessed to that. Or, you know, outwardly lived, looked like I was living that way, but in terms of motives and how I saw the world, and I think, you know, ACE ACEs diagnosis of down syndrome gave me this new sort of picture at, I think at first I, I lived into like, okay, well, this is what it will look like for ACE to succeed. 

And, and then, so it's just going to look like a different form of success, but dang it, he's going to be the, with down syndrome. Who's like doing these really cool things and showing everybody that down syndrome can do awesome things. And then for me it's been like a, a going deeper and deeper down and out of that place of like, what makes us human and what makes us valuable is not what we do. Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (15m 13s): I was just going to say, can you say more about that? Like what, how hats cause this I know has been true for me as well, but how has, like having ACE in your life changed your understanding of what it means to be human of who God is of identity of faith? I mean, for me, I know all of those questions came up and it's, I love the way you were describing. It brought me to a deeper place to the really real so, yeah. 

Speaker 2 (15m 36s): Yeah. You know, I, I think I I'm a thinker and when ACE was little, I was asking myself a lot that question of like, what makes us human. And I think a lot of the world sees like what makes us valuable or what makes us human as what we do as like what separates us from the animals or, you know, and, and how our minds work, being the top piece of that. 

And I, I, you know, I, this is, this is a little hard to talk about because I was so formed by John Vinnie's book becoming human. Yeah. And it's hard to talk about John Renee, right? I mean, at this point, because of, you know, things come out in the last six months about his, that he was sexually a predator of women and, you know, things that are heartbreaking, 

Speaker 1 (16m 37s): The epigraph for white picket fences is from him. And I mentioned him multiple times. He got me and had a really profound and transformative impact on me. And I was really, I mean, continue to feel really, really upset about that reality that said, I do think he names things that are very, very true about what it means to be human. And I hope that I can somehow continue to learn from that truth, even though it feels really different. 

Speaker 2 (17m 8s): Yep. Totally. What is, I think there's a saying in the reformed church, all truth is God's truth. Yeah. I like that. Yes. I think we can hold that. Let's hold that. Yeah. So yeah. One of the things that he, he wrote in becoming human is that what makes us human is, is our ability to give and receive love. And that was something that I started to hold really deeply. And I think something that I've had to hold even more deeply because, you know, I think you, you adjust your expectations. 

And so I entered into this down syndrome community, and then as somebody who's a performer, you can just look at all the, the kids within the down syndrome community and go, is my kid winning at this one at this like, which kid with down syndrome is reading first and which kid with down syndrome is walking 

Speaker 1 (17m 60s): Well. And honestly, I mean, within that, I found the same thing where it's like, and within that mentality, you can be considered even the more ex like you can win even better because not only are you winning, but you're winning with a child with a disability. Like, I mean, it can get really bad. I, 

Speaker 2 (18m 19s): Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, for, for ACE, his child challenges are deep. Like this autism piece has really affected his ability to, to make big strides developmentally. And so, you know, I have a five year old who still doesn't say mama, right. And it's still mostly nonverbal. And we work together every morning on holding a crayon and I'm trying to get him ready for kindergarten and, you know, get him be able to like, hold that crayon and make lines and circles. 

And it's, it's a slow story over here. It's, it's moving at a pace that I wasn't expecting, you know? And, and, and it's like that constant learning of there's no level of engagement with the world or cognitive understanding that makes any one human more valuable than another. And, and where ACE is totally amazing at is the ability to give and receive love. 

And he's got the people in his life who, especially his favorite men with big bushy beards, he will just hold. He just loves hugging. This whole quarantine thing has really been rough on him getting to hug all the people in his life. He really loves. But I think that that has like that image of, of his life helping my elevator go down and down deeper into, and that phrase, the really real I have to give credit to it's Richard Rohrs phrase phrase, but I, I just can't, I, it feels like the truest thing to me right. 

Of everything else is a veneer. Even the parts of us that the parts of my faith, that I have been exposed to me over these years of as being like, Oh, that wasn't really real. That was me performing. That was me trying to be something. And like, as the ego is stripped away. And I think that that's part of living with a child with a disability that has revealed to me that piece of privilege that you were talking about that of course, like as us, as two white women could never understand what it means to be a person of color in our country. 

But we do understand this sense of every time I go to the park with ACE, I, we are stared at right. And it will always be the case. His life is he, people always look twice at him. He's here right here with me. And <inaudible>, he decided to bang something on the table, across the table from me. And it's this yeah. 

This sense of, and tell and tell, we move past that outside layer of everybody's stairs into the truer and truer thing. Like I have to be secure in the true real thing 

Speaker 1 (21m 29s): Or else I'm kind of test around. Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense to me because in the kind of shiny performing space, which eventually was probably not going to work for you, but if you, you know, I kept that there for a long time, you can stay on the surface and it kind of works. But when you are all of a sudden, deeply, and intimately associated with slash providing for caring for, and deeply loving someone who doesn't have that surface performance, like it's just not gonna work. 

You either. I mean, I have found are going to fall apart or go deeper and yeah. And ultimately at least for me, and I know this is true for you too, that going deeper is actually a great relief because you realize that staying on that surface and trying to keep up the performance all the time, even if it kind of worked was exhausting and false, like compared to the really real, at least I don't, you know, cause it's not like we were consciously trying to lie to ourselves and other people about who we were, but it's a different thing to be guided and cared for by our kids into that deeper place. 

For sure. Yeah, absolutely. So I'm curious, so the title of this chapter that we're talking about is life is a gift. And I've been thinking about that title and the whole idea of like life is a gift and thinking, okay, this can really sound like a cliche and it can be used as a cliche. And yet I, I had this experience when penny was born, which I talk about in this chapter of a nurse coming into the room. 

And she said to me that she had also had a child who is special. And I asked her how old her child was now. And she said, he died a long time ago. And I said, I'm so sorry. And then she looked at me and I could tell from the way she was looking at me that like, I wasn't understanding what she was saying. And she said he was a gift. And she walked out of the room. That was it. And I thought about that a lot afterwards, because I thought if I can understand that simple phrase that you just said, something is going to shift dramatically in me. 

Like if I can truly receive this child who I have been given as a gift, that's going to change me. So I think it can be a cliche. I also think it can be an invitation into that like really real place that you're talking about. And I'm just going to note that ACE is now on Micah's lap. And so I get to see him, even if everyone else does not. Well, I am. But so I'm also have been thinking about this phrase. We are in a moment where we're hearing a lot about both black lives matter, but also this phrase all lives matter. 

And people talk about why all lives matter is a problematic phrase. And I wanted to talk a little bit about that in this context of like, is that the same thing as saying all life is a gift. Every life is a gift. Like how does this understanding that I've kind of come to have like a more common humanity? How is that helpful? And how is that also possibly problematic in terms of saying everybody's the same when that's actually not what we're talking about. And when we refuse to see the differences, it can actually harm people and D value. 

So I'm curious, just what you think about all that. Yeah. 

Speaker 2 (24m 59s): Well, I think that that's so much of this conversation is about which conversation you're in, right? Like black lives matter is a conversation about race. And when people come in with a well, all lives matter response, it's a little bit of a facade. I feel like it feels like it's like a gaslighting, like say more. I it's, it's sort of like saying, Oh, you said you have a problem, honey. But, but listen, we all have problems, right? 

Or like someone saying, trying to express their experience and being told by the person in power next to them, like that didn't really happen to you. I was there. Right. And so I think that what happens when we use that phrase all lives matter as white people, we are, we're basically saying to two black people in our lives or the people that we're engaging with, like your experience of racism. Isn't real enough for me to acknowledge. 

You're saying that you lead you're, you're saying when you say black lives matter that we all need to recognize that black lives are valuable and that there's some reason why black lives have not been acknowledged as valuable. Right. And for me to turn around and say, Oh no, no, everybody's life is valuable. I'm saying like, no, you didn't experience that. Right? You didn't experience that your life wasn't valuable any more than I've experienced. 

Right. 

Speaker 1 (26m 35s): I have a friend who's black. And she said to me the other day, you know, if I saw that you had a bunch pies on the counter and you threw away the Apple pie, but you left the cherry pie out, I might come over and say, I love Apple pie and take it out and say, this pie is wonderful. It's amazing. Let me tell you, what's so great about this pie because essentially it's because you've devalued the pie that I want to give the value back to the pie that it has always deserved. 

And, you know, we were, she was kind of making not, she wasn't making a joke. She was making truly saying an analogy where she's like, I'm a pie person. I love the cherry pie too, but it's because you put the Apple pie in the trash can that I need to really say thing about the cherry pie is not the story right now. We're not talking about the cherry pie. It was irrelevant. And we're going to honor the Apple pie because it's amazing. You know, anyway, I, I don't want to make light of it at all, but I actually thought it was almost helpful in pointing out the absurdity when someone is saying, especially in light of the history of our nation and our current moment to not pay attention to those words, black lives matter, or to try to put them under the umbrella of all lives. 

Matter as if those are the same thing. Anyway, her, her comment about the pies actually was, I was like, yeah, that's a really good illustration. 

Speaker 2 (28m 6s): It's a really good illustration. And I think that there is this my experience when I hear all lives matter online, it always seems to come with kind of this kindergarten teacher patronizing tone. Like, let me just teach you that. We're all important. Gotcha. So I, 

Speaker 1 (28m 25s): Yeah, no, I'm just curious in terms of thinking about that, because again, there's like this kind of surface, like kindergarten tone, way to go about that. And then I'm thinking about that. Like every life is a gift, like for me to actually believe that, like to actually start living, not just as if my daughter, penny who has down syndrome is a gift, but then from there to say, wait a second, what about all the other people that I have never valued consciously or unconsciously? 

What if they are gifts to me, not just like they deserve dignity or they have human rights, but like actually a, a gift, like a precious gift in this world. That really, for me, was transformative when I understood that at like, at a deeper level curious. 

Speaker 2 (29m 13s): Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that like, love is particular. Did you say that? 

Speaker 1 (29m 19s): I said that, read it from somebody really smart and it might've been you, but 

Speaker 2 (29m 26s): I think that, that, and I think that that is probably the problem with this idea of like spouting out all lives, matter to this particular conversation. Because if we are going to love someone, then we have to be particular. I need ACE to be loved as a child with down syndrome and autism, because that's who he is. And I, and if I were to, to ask people to not acknowledge or see him for who he is, then I've been, what they're loving is not really him. 

Right. Right. And so I feel like to have this conversation about yes, all, all lives are a gift. And then to talk about why every life is a gift, we've got to go down into the particular right. Of like the goodness of each human, the dignity of each human. Is that making sense? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. But I don't think, I think that absolutely. We should say every life is a gift. Right. I, and I don't think that there's anything like meaningless about that statement. 

It's but it's in the context of this, this conversation about race in America that all lives matter does is hurtful and not, not true, not the really real right. Right. 

Speaker 1 (30m 53s): And it's not as though you're trying to devalue anyone's life. You're just trying to up hold up. And not just you, anyone who's saying black lives matter is trying to hold up the value and dignity and inestimable worth of people who have historically and systematically been treated otherwise and been devalued. Absolutely. I want to read just a short passage from this first chapter of white picket fences and talk a little bit about vulnerability and fragility. 

I'll say a little bit more in a sec, but so, yeah, so this is me just kind of thinking in my head that even the individuals who appear broken by social standards are no more or less broken than I am no more or less capable of contributing to our world. Even if people like me, I've never learned to value their gifts. The inability to recognize that value is a failure on my part, a failure of imagination and a vision. When I refuse to see myself as sharing my humanity with people with down syndrome, with people whose bodies function differently than my own with people of a different ethnicity or skin color or socioeconomic status, I cut myself off from seeing my own need. 

As I weave a web of invulnerability, I cut myself off from allowing others to love me. The logic of self-sufficiency is a logic of loneliness. I understand the pragmatic argument that life with an intellectual disability is a burden to the self and the society. But I have began to see that reasoning for what it is a barren landscape, a desert. So I bring this passage up because I have been thinking about this other phrase that has made a lot of, you know, kind of news rounds recently, which is white fragility and a friend of mine. 

Well, and the idea there, it's, there's a book by a white woman named Robin de Angelo called white fragility. And talking about the fragility that white people often experience talking about racial identity, because it's just not something that we have been trained to do before. And it feels threatening to our identity to even start bringing it up. And we get defensive and feel wounded easily and all, everything that ensues from there at the same time, it feels like for a lot of white people who are just waking up to questions of racial identity and of privilege and of the history of our nation, there needs to be a space to be vulnerable, like to actually admit, I don't really know. 

I don't have the language, right. I'm afraid I'm going to offend people. I want to be sensitive, but you know, so I've, and I've seen vulnerability as a really positive thing, especially since penny has been in my life because I've seen her as someone who is her vulnerability is just obvious. And so that actually allows me to see my own vulnerability, which I for so many years was able to hide from myself and from the world. And I've thought about this idea of vulnerability, which can means like the root of the word is able to be wounded. 

But I think that related to that ability to be wounded is also an ability to give and receive love that somehow those things in a broken world, just go together, that if I opened myself up in such a way that you could wound me, I also opens up myself in such a way that I could give and receive love from you. So I've been thinking about, on the one hand, I think it's helpful to name white fragility. And yet I also think it's really important to create a space for everyone, but including white people to be vulnerable about ignorance and fear and shame and all of these things. 

So I'm just curious, I don't know if you have anything to say about that in terms of the relationship between fragility and vulnerability differences, similarities, whatever comes to mind. Yeah, yeah. 

Speaker 2 (34m 48s): Yeah. Well, if it feels like to me, for agility in this context is lives next to the ego. Like it's, it's on that surface level of how I'm presenting myself to the world. And if, and it's, you know, if you crack that shiny veneer on the outside, then you're exposing me. And, and I feel like that that white fragility idea is we're, we're afraid of being exposed. 

We're afraid of being shown to, first of all, we benefit from the system of white supremacy in our country. We're afraid of having our power or our status taken away, even if we would never say that or, or even that in ourselves. Yeah. And, but there's also the, like, I, none of us, I would speak for most white people, maybe can I speak for most white people? 

We, people don't want to be racist at least, at least in our generation. Right. And so to be exposed for, for that underlying racism is a scary thing, but that's all on the surface level of ego. And when you talk about vulnerability, I think it goes back to what we were talking about before, if that elevator ride down, like it's down into the, the true things and right. And I, to, to quote Richard Rohr again, he talks about how I heard him say once that he prays every day for one good humility. 

I have heard that <inaudible>. Yeah. And I think that that's like, that is the difference between fragility and vulnerability is fragility is up here and it's like, don't crack this thing that protects me and vulnerability is accepting. Like the crack is already wide open and I'm allowed to go down into the truth that I am imperfect, that I have things to learn that I can listen to others, that I can be soft and willing to admit my mistakes. 

And so it, yeah, it, it almost feels like vulnerability is the opposite of fragility. 

Speaker 1 (37m 15s): I love that. I think that's really helpful. Thank you. So I have, I think I, one more question for you. So when I first met you and you were having, I think the name of your blog was mama monk. Am I right about that? Okay. So mama mind was when I was first introduced to you and then found was your book that you talked about earlier that kind of came out of mama monk and looking at how the rule of st. Benedict was shaping and forming you. And so I really thought of you as this contemplative spiritual writer, and then in terms of the podcasting work that you've done, which I also love. 

So you've got this podcast, the lucky few with Mercedes and Heather, and I'm just going to read your tagline, which is shifting the narrative by shouting the worth of people with down syndrome. It's like activism, you know, like really you guys are advocates and activists on behalf of people with down syndrome, and you're doing that all the time. And so I'm curious about whether you see a link between the contemplative work and the activist work and how having a child with down syndrome has perhaps either, you know, connected those things one way or another. 

Yeah. Does that make sense? So, 

Speaker 2 (38m 29s): Yeah, absolutely. Right. I think that as a personality, I am much more drawn to the contemplative life and to an activist life. And it helps that my co-hosts Heather and Mercedes they're, the activist life for them is, is powerful. And it pulls me in and, and, and brings me along. But I think, you know, when, when you said, what I was writing about before ACE was born was contemplative practices. 

And, and, you know, I think I've, I'm still, I still am drawn to writing about those things. And I think that my passion is helping people find their way into the presence of God, in a culture that runs at a pace that moves us toward everything else, you know, that moves us towards anxiety and self-importance and speed and performance, rather than that depth we've been talking about. But I, you know, one of the things I, so I have been working on a, been working on writing the story of like how ACE has profoundly changed my understanding of God. 

And it really always comes back to this theme of slowness that I had bought into our cultures love for speed and productivity. And I had applied that to life with God. And, and I think that that what ACE has taught me about contemplation has been that the slow, the slow places are the places where God's working inside of us. And that's the pace that God has most often worked at in the world. 

And there's evidence to that all around us. And, and so I think that activism, activism that doesn't come out of the really real is shiny veneer. And so I, it's harder for me to see myself as an activist and I never would have, I think before I got like the passionate mama need to stand up for ACE in the world, but, but I want that to come out of a place of contemplative, like the container. 

Speaker 1 (40m 57s): Yeah, no, I thought a lot about that actually, even as I was writing the book, I'm probably actually, as I was writing the book more so than just in terms of penny, but that I, if I really want to be a white person who is engaging, because it is a choice for me, more than a forced experience, if I really want to be engaging with the suffering of marginalized communities and the joys. And if I really want to be asking the questions that take off the trappings of my life as of productivity and speed and all those things, you're thinking about that it has to come out to that and to sustain. 

It has to come out of a deeply rooted place. Like if I'm not actually deeply rooted in the love of God, that is actually filling me in some sort of overflowing way. If I'm not participating in something that's bigger than me. And if I'm not practicing getting there, right. Like actually practicing, slowing down and receiving and listening and humility, even humiliation. Although I do not share Richard war's prayers, I'm not sure yet or something, but yeah, if I'm not living in that contemplative space at all, then I think this is part of what you're saying. 

Then any like activism I have is false. Like it's just back to, Oh, look, how can I be a good and successful activist? How can I have the right? How can I prove that I'm woke? How can I prove that I'm the, you know, as opposed to, I really want to just like gently and graciously and honestly, and even when it hurts and it's hard participate in this bigger work that God is doing, not just in my life, but in our world, right. 

Speaker 2 (42m 43s): Living into the values of the kingdom of God and, and recognizing too that, that if, if it isn't for the kingdom of God at work in me or my like accepting the invitation to participate in it, I, what I'm doing on behalf of ACE, my child with a disability is could just be like mom, anger, you know, like I can just protect ACE. I can just live out of that space and be like, no, you won't miss treat my son. 

Or I can accept an invitation into a much bigger picture of a world full of people who are marginalized and oppressed and see the reality for what it is and step into all of it. And not just work on behalf of my son, but work on behalf of God's vision for the world 

Speaker 1 (43m 37s): And to know yourself really, as connected to that. I mean, that's been, what's been so beautiful for me is that sense of, I, for so long felt as though in the beginning, I was like fighting for penny to be included in my world because my world was the standard. And it was like the way it's supposed to be done instead of recognizing that, like, once penny was in my world in the sense of, in my heart and I was introduced therefore to more people with disabilities or on the margins in different ways. It wasn't just this like, Hey, come be like me. 

I was invited into a, a bigger world, like all together that actually had a lot of beauty and love. And, and again was slower. And VA the value system was different. And I think more in keeping with that really real place inside each of us. All right. Well, Micah, thank you so much for just taking this conversation to, in this direction. I would love for people to be able to find out more about you and ACE and your family and what you do and where, where can people find you online? 

Speaker 2 (44m 43s): I have, I share my writing and my just professional work at, on Instagram at Micah Boyette. And it's M I C H a, it looks like me HSA. So just prepare yourself. And, and then I share about ACEs life at ACE faces my friends on Instagram. Okay. And my goal there is just to give people a vision of what, what life, how beautiful life is with him. 

And then our podcast. The lucky few is@theluckyfewpodcasts.com and it's on Instagram as well. And then I have a website <inaudible> dot com. 

Speaker 1 (45m 26s): All right. We'll put all of those things in the show notes to make sure people can get there. And I will tell you that we heard the scripture verse Micah six, eight the other day, and my kids. And I said, no, it's spelled M I C H J. 

Speaker 2 (45m 44s): I know it's spelled wrong. Oh, well, that's a good word. 

Speaker 1 (45m 47s): It's a good verse. It really is. Alright. Well, Micah, thank you so, so much for being here and I look forward to more conversations in the yes. 

Speaker 2 (45m 57s): Weeks to come, and 

Speaker 1 (45m 59s): We will make sure that everybody gets a sense of where they can find out more. 

Speaker 2 (46m 3s): Thanks so much. Thanks for having me, Jay. So fun to be here. 

Speaker 1 (46m 7s): Thanks again for joining me. I do hope that if you haven't had a chance to check out Micah's work, you'll look her up. We'll leave in the show. Notes, links to her website, to the lucky few podcast. I'll tell you my favorite episode ever of the lucky few podcast is when Micah talks with her friend Mellon about their mutual friend, Carrie, who they grew up with and who Micah mentioned in this episode has down syndrome. I'll leave a link to that conversation as well. It's really beautiful. 

And what else? So if you appreciated this podcast, we are just getting started here on season three, and we really would love to share this far and wide. So please do tell people about what you've heard, send it in an email, send it as a text, encourage people to subscribe, to rate review, talk about these ideas, these themes, because we want together to help build a world in which love is stronger than fear. 

Thanks so much for listening next week. We're in for another treat. When I'm going to get to talk to my friend, Pat Ray bond about the chapter and white picket fences called mirrors and doors. We're going to talk about children's literature and how to talk with our kids about race. And you're going to get to hear about how Pat challenged me to do that differently. So please tune in subscribe, share the podcast with friends far and wide so that we can all continue to have these conversations about the really real about the things that make us human about what it means to go into that deep place with God and with one another, and to find an experience healing and wholeness in that place. 

Again, please share this with other people come back next week. I look forward to the conversation. Thanks so much for listening. 

Speaker 3 (48m 2s): <inaudible>.