Thursdays With Bruno

Posted: July 10, 2008 in Family and Friends

I first met Bruno at City Hall. We were part of a meeting of clergy with the mayor of Ocean Springs, and the mayor asked each of us to introduce ourselves. Bruno mentioned appropriately that he was a retired United Church of Christ pastor, but that the UCC was not to be confused with the “Church of Christ,” a much more conservative group more prominent in the South. When my turn came, I mentioned that I preached at the Church of Christ in town, and that we weren’t “united” in any shape or form! That moment of laughter served as our personal introduction.

Year later, after I returned to my office from another City Hall meeting, Bruno made a special trip to see me. He came just to tell me that I was very different than other Church of Christ preachers he had encountered, and that this was a compliment. I sure took it as such. I think part of his confusion was my simple participation in an ecumenical meeting, but probably more perplexing was my leadership in establishing a Habitat for Humanity affiliate to break down all sorts of walls in our county (through, ironically, putting up walls of course). Either way, he sensed we had a lot more in common than anyone would have thought. And he was right.

Later, after yet another City Hall meeting, I had an idea and was bold enough to pursue it. I had lost a couple of wonderful Thursday companions (Jim McVeay, when we finished his book, and John Dobbs, when Hurricane Katrina rearranged our life schedules), and I wondered if I could get together with Bruno every once in a while just to spend some time with him. I figured I could learn a lot from a classy, retired, liberal pastor in his seventies. This time it was my turn to be perceptive. And right.

We’ve shared lunch nearly every Thursday for a couple of years now, and today was our very last one. I will miss these days very much.

My Church of Christ friends will swallow their song books learning of my hanging out with the UCC, possibly the most liberal Christian denomination on the planet. Bruno said they are so liberal that some people say they address their prayers, To Whom It May Concern. Yet their twin commitments to breaking down every wall that separates us from one another while standing up for the cause of justice for the oppressed place them in The Jesus Way to me.

Beyond all that, I keep thinking that I want to be like Bruno someday. Like tomorrow. Tomorrow would be good for me. When I was in college, one of my roommates was finishing law school. He told me that one of his professors said that everyone should be liberal when they are young because everyone will be conservative when they get older. Made sense to me. Until Bruno, that is. My friend who doesn’t reach back toward some day long since past, but who instead reaches forward toward something yet to be attained.

My Thursdays will be different now. Worse in a real way. Yet because of my Thursdays with my friend, Bruno, I hope all my other days will be better and better. When I picture Bruno thinking radical thoughts, taking on new challenges in retirement, perusing blogs and playing with his techno-gadgets, and befriending a goofy Church of Christ preacher he only knew was “different,” I will remember exactly who it is that I’m trying to become.

  1. unicorntx says:

    I’m grateful for your kind words and bit embarrassed by the notariety – but grieving the loss of our Thursday companionship is mutual. My hope is that your academic load won’t prevent our keeping in touch via cyber-space.
    And – I hope your public confession about those with whom you keep company won’t came back to haunt you!

  2. alsturgeon says:

    To quote the classic line, “What’re they gonna do, fire me?” 🙂

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