Risk Love

In the final episode of season four, Dr. Patrick Reyes answers questions from staff and previous guests that help him reflect on his past and present. He shares his thoughts on theological education, advancing technology, and the things in his life that contribute to his thriving and bring him joy.

Season 4: Episode 12

A risk worth taking

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes is the bestselling and award-winning author of The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive, and Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood. A Chicano educator, writer, futurist, and cultural change strategist, he is the dean at Auburn Seminary. He was the Senior Director of Learning Design at the Forum for Theological Exploration and former host of the Sound of the Genuine podcast. He is the current board President of the Religious Education Association and co-dean of the Children's Defense Fund Dale Andrews Freedom Seminary. He serves on several boards in higher education and the non-profit sector, supporting the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and Chicano leaders and educators. Patrick lives in New Mexico with his family, loving and belonging to the land and his people. You can learn more about Patrick and his work at thepurposegap.com.


Elsie: Welcome to the Sound of the Genuine, FTE’s podcast on vocation, meaning and purpose. I'm Elsie Barnhart, a learning design manager at FTE and executive producer of the Sound of the Genuine. Today we have a special episode to close out season four. Please join me and fellow learning design manager, Heather Wallace, in our conversation with our usual host, Dr. Patrick Reyes, as he answers questions from staff and previous guests of the podcast.

All right, Pat. Thanks for joining us on the Sound of the Genuine. I don't think that we need to do this interview conversation in the same format that you would typically because I think that folks know quite a bit about you. And if people are interested in your history or your story, they can definitely check out either one of your books, Nobody Cries When We Die or The Purpose Gap. And we will link both of those in the show notes. So for listeners who are familiar with you, one thing they might want to know is what did little Pat Reyes want to be when he grew up? 

Patrick: This is such a good question. What did I want to be when I grew up? I don't know, a whole bunch of things. Growing up in Salinas, it's all agriculture and the coolest job that I could see driving up and down the 101 in California was truck drivers, who were moving all the food.

And I thought that was like the coolest job ever, cuz it was big machines, the trucks just looked amazing. My mom's side, they did dairy. So they did dairy feed. We had these big red trucks that were all associated with that side of the family. So we'd see them all up and down on the 101. I always wanted to drive a truck for them.

In sixth grade, I wrote an essay that outlined what my life should be, all the things I wanted to do. And it was in order. So I wanted to go to school. I wanted to run for public office. So around the time that I wrote this letter, I got invited to this thing that Leon Panetta and his wife Sylvia, were doing, for people in the 831.

For those who came from Title I schools who were high performers. Like, we wanna recognize you and take pictures with you. So, they seemed like they had cool jobs, so I wanted to run for public office. At that time he was just that man. A fun fact? My little sister went to prom with his grandson, so that’s kind of cool…you know, weird. You know, 831 Salinas/Monterey County is a very small place. So I wanted to run for public office and kind of change some of the stuff that was going on there. 

And then, after public office, be a teacher. I wanted to go back and teach. And then after all that was done, I wanted to drive trucks. That was the kinda the order of my life, which is really strange and bizarre. And it was just based on the people around me. I was really excited that these lawmakers would recognize me and, at the same time, I always had this like heart and love for the teachers that took me in their classroom. The classroom was always a safe space for me, so I wanted to be like them.

Elsie: So if we look at your list, school you've done that, you've kind of maxed out in this particular area. Teacher, yeah, definitely doing that. The only thing you haven't done is run for public office or drive trucks. 

Patrick: Yep. Yep. That's in the realm of possibility. I don't think running for public office like, I think I had written down that I wanted to be a senator. I mean, I think I understood what a senator was, but I didn't understand what they did and didn't understand the like, importance of that.

I think it was probably because at whatever event we're at, there was probably a state senator. But I could see myself doing stuff like for a local school board. Or, you know, I serve on local public library board here. You know, things like that where you still have to run for office and then get elected, but it's volunteer. You're not getting paid to do it. So I would love, love, love to do something like that for public office, where it's super local. Truck driver's gonna happen. I am that guy who every time I see machinery, think in my head, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ I can't do that. I shouldn't be allowed to do that. It's like the Mo Willems books, you know, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. It's like, don't let Pat drive the big rig. He will if you, but don't let him.

Elsie: Do you wanna jump in, Heather? Do you have any burning questions for Dr. Patrick B. Reyes?

Heather: I have one serious and two fun. So Pat, imagine yourself as an old Pat, and you are thinking back to maybe current times, maybe a little bit before now. What vocational advice would you give yourself? What's the one thing you would want to impart to a younger self after you've gone through this vocational journey throughout life?

Patrick: What a beautiful question. After hosting the Sound of the Genuine, we've heard what, 75 stories or something like that from religious and spiritual leaders, organizational leaders. And one of the things I've been reflecting on is this idea of leadership. What does leadership mean in these moments?

And one of the things that you both know is - I'm like getting all teary eyed - like I have a list of people I've met, I've talked to, that I write it down in my journal if I meet someone new and well, you know, what I enjoyed about them. And I fall in love with the people. I mean, I love the both of you very, very much.

I love all the people that we work with. That's my thing. That's, that's what I try to do, is when I meet someone and see them for who they are and love them for that. In work settings, that's not always, that's not always welcome. You know, like I think we've had several guests on here and talking about organizational leadership, about needing distance between you and staff or you and people and that has just sat with me so wrong. I'm only here for a short amount of time. So that older self is probably saying, stay with it. I know you have those moments where you don't wanna be you, you wanna be more like someone else in your leadership. You hear that and you want to say, okay, well maybe they have it right, maybe you have it wrong. And I would just encourage that old, old man-self is looking back, saying, you know, make sure you, you keep that. That's who you are. You got a big, explosive, over the top heart for people and the work and life and love. You know, I just, I think that's, that's the biggest thing.

And that's really hard, especially in, um, like loving people deeply, especially when they're not being their best selves and when I'm not being my best self. but I don't think, I don't think old Pat will be thinking about the distance he created between himself and other people. He'll be thinking about the way he closed that gap between people's hearts. So that would be my advice. Risk love. It's a good risk.

Heather: That's beautiful and no surprise.

Elsie: All right, so we're done. I think we'll just go ahead and turn this recording off and it'll be the shortest episode we've ever had. 

Heather: You want your funny ones now?

Patrick: Yeah.

Heather: If you were in any other field doing any other thing - I think I know what your answer's gonna be, but I don't know that the listeners know what your answer's gonna be - what would it be? Not theological education, where would you be? What would you be doing? 

Patrick: I'll give you a title. I would be let's call it the Vice President of Love and Joy at Pixar Animation Studios. I love, love, love, love animation - animation that's geared towards kids. You know, granted, a lot of it's geared towards adults, it's storytelling for adults who have to sit with their children.

But like Studio Ghibli, these places that have really tried to capture the imagination of children, have found ways to convey messages of love, happiness, joy, concern, how to deal with heartbreak and challenge, and overcome them. Yeah, I love the culture. I've read everything I can around Pixar, around Studio Ghibli, like Disney. I've gone all the way in on all these animation studios to see how they do their work, how they collaborate, how they work. And because of what they do in the world, if I wasn't in theological education, which I think has a very similar mission to help people feel loved, yeah, I would be doing something like that.

You know, trying to revive a Mr. Roger's vibe or a Levar Burton, you know, Reading Rainbow, like I wanna redo that, something for kids. Thinking about children, you can't go wrong doing that work. And I'd be a hundred percent in doing storytelling, or helping great storytellers, actually, do their work even better at a studio like that.

And if they call me back! I keep making this joke. I have written emails saying, do you need a director of love? No, they never do. So, one day they might.

Heather: So great love of, storytelling. Here's your other fun question. This is gonna be a hard one for the lover of books who speeds read I don't know how many books each week. If you were stranded on a desert island, Pat, and could take only one book with you, what book would it be? 

Patrick: Oh my gosh. So for the listeners, I read three to five books a week. And if I'm stranded on a desert island…only one book? Can it be like a series? Can I take like a box set?  

Heather: Because it's you, it can be a box set. Go for it.

Patrick: You know, I'll start with always Rudolfo Anaya. You know, I live in the Southwest. He's my Chicano author of authors I would take Bless me, Ultima, uh, just hit 50 years last year. That book reminds me of my relationship with my grandma, my coming of age. You know it talks about a seven-year-old kind of coming of age, again, it's, you know, a kid's story, about an adult. You know, really kind of thinking…it's told for adults.

Bless Me, Ultima, definitely would be top of the list. And I'd probably take the Parable series from Octavia Butler. And the reason why I'd want both books is because I think…well one, it was supposed to be a trilogy. Not a lot of people know that. So the Parable of the Trickster is still sitting out there waiting to be written.

So it'd give me something to think about, you know, another project that maybe I could be working on while I'm sitting on this desert island, in honor of Octavia Butler. But also I love the generational between the two books. You have something that's very generative in dreaming and building in the first one, and you have kind of a next generation reflecting back on what that work looks like and kind of teasing out what might have gone better, what else they might dream.

And I think that, you all know we get to work with the next generation. And I think we often forget as this generation, as the people who are doing the work, that getting outta the way for them to do great work, we gotta make space for them to kind of dream and imagine and critique what we've done. And I think that Octavia Butler does that better than anyone. And I think those two books really have to be read together. You can't read one without the other.

Elsie: On the heels of the reading three to five books a week, in addition to everything else, I think anyone who's familiar with you, knows what kind of work ethic you have. Yeah, you're not gonna outwork Pat. So what does rest look like for you?

Patrick: Work. Here's the thing about me. Like, I give that answer about love, like, I don't really do things I don't love to do. There's few spaces in my life where I'm not where I wanna be or where I feel like I should be or I'm not doing some sort of practice to ground me to stay exactly where I am.

So, you know what I don't want people to walk away is you hear, you know, Pat's a workaholic who neglected his family. Cuz that's not me. You know, I'm all in on my family. I go to every event that I'm in town for and I'm home for. Cause I have to travel a lot for work. I wake up before my kids to get stuff done.

I stay up later. Yeah, I'm all in on my family. We have 47 cats and 29 dogs in our house. For those who don't know, like we love to foster and take care so I got a little farm going on here. Yeah, I'm all in on everything. There's no real thing where I don't jump both feet in. In fact, I think, one of my fatal flaws that people have said to me is when I don't want to be somewhere, people know. You know, like, you know, they can read it on my face or my energy that this was not where I was supposed to be and I typically kind of move.

Rest for me is, you know, just grounding myself in the joy and the experience and love for what I'm doing. And so there's moments like, you know, running. I run. It's quiet time by myself, you know, when else do I get that? I wrote my doctoral dissertation while running marathons because that was three to four hours I was in my own head and kind of refining ideas before I sat down to write sort of complete sentences.

Now I don't run as far, but I spend a lot of time in the arroyo with my dogs and my kids. And that restful time, you know, those are half an hour, hour long walks, um, couple times a day just to ground myself in the silence that is the high desert here in the southwest where we have ancestral roots.

So there's moments where I, I find rest and like things that I don't think people quite understand, like how joyful they make me. So like we're in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the hummingbirds just arrived in their migration. And for us, they represent the ancestors, they represent the divine. Huītzilōpōchtli, who is the God that kind of gives us the six directions, you know, above us, below us and around us in every direction. So when they arrive, I like, I stop. I take pictures, I just watch them cuz hummingbirds are amazing. So those little moments where I'm in my rhythm of doing things that I love, being with people that I love, that's where rest comes from.

I'm also not one who shy’s away from conversation. I'm kind of a chatterbox. So, you know, if I see someone or I'm getting in a conversation, I always invite, ‘Hey, can you sit down? I'd love to talk to you for a little bit longer?’ There's no end to those conversations. So those things for me are, those are restful. And they fill my cup. 

Elsie: So we do know you very well and that you are very family oriented and you're also always talking about the ancestors. So you're looking back, but you're also always looking towards the future. What would your kids say that their dad does for a living? Yeah, what is their understanding of what Pa does?

Patrick: Oh, talk on the phone probably. I spend a lot of time on video calls, of course, but I still pick up the phone a lot. So they, they probably think I'm just on the phone all the time. They know I write books so they know I'm a writer. Both kids think I'm a writer, which the way I know that is they both make a lot of books. So they put things together. They have me bind things that they've made and they show me and then they sign it for me. They love to write. They love to read too, both my kids are readers, so they love getting into books. Yeah, that's a really, really, really good question. Asher, my son, said the other day after getting off a call, I walked back into the house and he goes, "Pa, who were you talking to?"

And I said, whoever it was. And he goes, "You were really excited for them. Did you call them or like, what, what happened?" It was someone who had gotten a promotion in the academy, and I was just, you know, screaming at the top of my lungs and happy for 'em.

I told him about all that and then he goes, “Are we related to them?” I said, no. Why? Why would you ask? He goes, because you kept telling them you love them so much. You just kept saying, "I love you. Oh my gosh, I'm so proud of you, I love you." And he goes, I really thought you were talking to like someone we're related to.

So you know that I think our kids know, at least in my thing, I'll pick up the phone for better, for worse, for those hard times, those hard conversations. And also I think they know that there's some magic in putting down words on paper now that they wanna be a part of as well.

Elsie: All right. I think I'm gonna need to move to questions that people have sent in. I'm gonna start with a long one. This is Claudio Carvalhaes, so of course it's a minute and 30 seconds. 

Claudio Carvalhaes: Patrick, my good brother, it's about time that we interview you. You have been listening to so many of us, and as I told you in our conversation, the Sound of the Genuine comes from the ability to listen. And you have been listening. Not only to us, but to communities, to people, to places, to other forms of being.

I want to know, how is your process of listening? Who do you listen to? Two, what are your processes of paying attention? Where do you turn your ears? What are the sounds of the Genuine that searches for the Sounds of the Genuine inside of you? In the forms of communities, music, you run, your children, the books, the places. Tell us a little bit about how do you listen? How is that Sound of the Genuine that you search for? 

Patrick: Oh, Claudio. I got Claudio's new book right here that I'm reading through. Oh, what a gift and what a gift Claudio is to the world and his story that sat with me. And for those who listened to it, the live recording and I don't think I say anything for like an hour.

I just sat there and smiled. What a great question on how, how to listen. There's a lot of great literature I think that we've looked through around podcasting, interviewing, journalism stuff around how to do an interview, how to listen. You know, I'm gonna put it as simple as possible for our listeners in this moment that we are, I think the greatest gift of doing something mostly virtual, like the Sound of the Genuine, has been to find the mute button. To be able to mute yourself and truly immerse yourself in someone else's story, allows you to be present for it in a way that isn't always socially acceptable - to just sit there and smile at someone and really listen to it and affirm them and repeat back the words that they said and say like, man, that's amazing.

Or, you know, “wow” if you had to do a transcript of all of our things, that's one of my, go-to words. But also putting the mute button on my own ego, my own questions, my own sense of self when I'm listening to others. I've been blown away by the Sound of the Genuine, these stories that we've listened to with people who I've known, I've had deep relationships with for years, and the stories they tell me, it's just incredible. And the stories that give them meaning, the moments in their lives that give them some purpose, I think that's just been beautiful.

And for me, like in my own work, you know, I tease some of that out in writing, this question of, how do you listen to your own story? How do you pay attention to it? And being generous to myself. I think, you know, I, I'm, I'm just really grateful for the colleagues that I have.

I mean, I'm talking to both of you Elsie and Heather, the way that others can speak into your life, you guys have both done that for me. I mean, I was telling folks that when I'm feeling less than generous, my generous self, Heather BP Wallace comes in my head, you know, saying, ‘think of ways that you might be able to be kind to them and love them.’ And that comes from your story and the way that you, your community held you. And Elsie the way that you handle…I mean, I would just say like high-stress moments. For those who don't know, you know, you've been through floods, literally floods and fires with me. And the kind of calm and the sense of like, this is gonna get taken care of, this is nothing, nothing that we can't, can't take care of. 

And, I think, yeah, listening to myself is more about listening to the community. And I've had that through my whole life. It was modeled by my grandma, everyone who reads anything or hears anything, it's my grandma. The stories that I have around her, are her taking on the stories of our entire community, taking on my B.S., the trauma that I had and her sitting and listening deeply. And I don't remember a lot of advice given, I don't remember her telling me what I should do or could do. I just remember her telling me she was proud of me and she was glad I was here. And sometimes that's enough to hear the Sound of the Genuine in you. That you are enough right now in this moment that you decide to show up.

Yeah, so like I think about all the people who have formed me to listen to the sound of the genuine and kind of calm that inner, that inner sense of self. And again, going back to that first thing, if you can find that mute button sometimes it's a good thing.

Elsie: we had a question sent in by Dr. Stephen Ray. How do you hold the future of our project, theological education, as you stand before a new generation of scholars as the griot and the only padrino that they know? You are not the new kid on the block anymore.

Patrick: Gosh.

Elsie: And he sent a smiley face, I think, to sort of lessen the blow.

Patrick: That I'm an old man now.

Elsie: You're an old man now. Yeah.

Patrick: I think, you know, one of the things I really love about the work of FTE, we get about, I don't know, between 80 and a hundred applications a year for those fellowships. [I] got to read all those projects and what they're working on. And the projects that got me really excited were the ones that were recovering or reevaluating or really trying to heal, like communal traumas and histories, due to colonization, slavery.

You know, I say this about my own work that I'm trying to heal from the erasure and eradication of my people and our stories. And so that type of work, I just love. It takes deep work. It's not like a, ‘this is my thought about how things went down.’ Researchers, those who are getting PhDs, are doing deep dives into the archives. They're collecting as many narratives and stories as they can gather to try to make sense of things that are really complex. And if they didn't do that work, we wouldn't have those stories. I think about where we're going right now in the future, AI, machine learning, is only based on what's on the internet and we're not there. So, you know, I think researchers of the future, especially scholars of color, that work is so necessary to recover.

And to that question of I'm the only one they know, I think we've said this before - when we approach mentoring or engagement with scholars or folks ahead of you, that our job is to connect people with others. Not to like say, this is my student or this is my acolyte, but really to broaden that network of support as wide as possible. You know, a joke with mentors [is] that you got five fingers on your hand. A good mentoring session is when they walk away with five new names that a person should talk to or connect with. So I love the question around what do we do is the thing. 

Like personally, I mean, I introduce myself now, publicly as you know…I say I sit between five generations of Carmelita's. You know, there's one, five generations back. My grandma's name was Carmelita. My daughter's name is Carmelita. In five generations, there'll be a Carmelita. What that helps me keep in perspective, Dr. Ray, is that my work probably doesn't matter all that much. So five generations back, that Carmelita didn't know a little Patty B Reyes was gonna be around. And in five generations, that Carmelita's probably not reading my stuff. So what I do is I gotta put as much love into the world and make sure people have what they need to create space for those future generations to thrive. [That] helps me just kind of ground my work. That it's important, but it's not the only thing that I'm doing in the work in the world.

And being able to have that like long view back and that long view forward puts me right now, in this space, in perspective. I will be an ancestor at some point, just like I was a descendant. And that comes with responsibility and gifts that, it's not just about my scholarship. But it's really about connecting people to what's been erased, eradicated, what needs to be recovered, healed, and brought into the future.

And, you know, honestly, I just love people like Dr. Ray cuz I think he models it best as someone who just loves, loves people.

Elsie: We have another question sent in from Dr. Valerie Bridgeman. First that she wanted to extend her heartfelt thanks for all that you've brought to FTE and to all of us. She says that Patrick has been, ‘the gravity holding us down this season.’ So her question is, how do you know the moment of leaving or moving on? How do you discern that spiritually? 

Patrick: What a good question. Oh my gosh. I go to her Sound of the Genuine, you know, I've listened to all of 'em, I think hers is one of the ones I've listened back to a couple times cuz there's so much transition in her story as well. I think she's got a lot of wisdom and guidance there.

There's this moment where she talks about going into the forest and having these conversations. One of the things that I am recognizing, at least now in this moment of transition, is that everything is time bound. I'm working on this new book that's about the pedagogy of the ancestors.

You know, how do we think about raising children to be good ancestors. And you know, going back to the last person who asked a question, Dr. Ray was in a room, and I've been leading this practice or facilitation exercise where I ask people to close their eyes and imagine an ancestor. And then I ask them to open their eyes and I ask, okay, now how many of you all imagine children? And I've yet to see a hand raised in this research that I'm doing or, you know, in surveys I've sent out. No one imagines children as ancestors and yet in our scriptures and the traditions I come from, children absolutely can be and should be ancestors.

And in fact, I remember in a room that he was in as well, I told him, I said, look, I think I was happiest in my vocation as a five-year-old. And I didn't stay there for very long. You know, when I went to kindergarten for the first time and had all those friends around and I was learning new things and playing, and didn't have to worry about earning money and all stuff, my vocation was pretty amazing.

And I think I'd really like a five-year-old Dr. Ray. I think I'd also like a five-year-old Dr. Bridgeman and like, what a joy would that be if we were on the ancestral plane as a bunch of five-year-old selves meeting each other and becoming best friends? You know, like that's something I wanna…I would love to live into.

When I think about this when it's time to move on, I don't think about my vocation or jobs as like an upward trajectory. Like I have to achieve more things or get more CV lines or do this next project in order for me to say that work was successful or that time was successful. In this moment, you know, I've been thinking about the people that I love and it was more like, do I have enough time to say thank you to every person that has loved me into being since being at this job? And I imagine I will be working with them, you both, the folks who I've worked alongside with at FTE like Matthew and Kimberly and other folks, for as long as I live. Like you said, I don't really have an off button and I like to call people whether they like to pick up the phone or not.

So that transition moment doesn't feel as final as I think a lot of people see who especially tie their job to their vocation. Like, oh, this is an end of an era. No, it's not. This is just another place where I'm gonna be loving people and that everyone I've loved before is still gonna be loved. I still have friends from elementary school, you know? Like, I don't think about transition as so final. And this also might just be a Mexican thing. Like when I think about death, we're pretty okay with it. You know, like in the final transition…that's not a final transition. That's me going to the ancestral plane. And my spirit will go where it needs to be and I'm okay with that. 

So yeah, I just live into these transitions. I'm sorry, Valerie. I don't have like a good, you know when you know, answer. Like these were the things that checked off the box. I think it was, I got a phone call from someone I love and admire very deeply and said, “Would you come, can you come?”

And what would this be like? And I want you, I want you here - That's in this new role that I'd be taking on. And I wasn't expecting the call, [it] came outta nowhere for me, and just like Claudio’s question, I stayed curious about the sound of the genuine. [I] listened to what her questions were, what the organization was doing, and was like, oh, I could see myself loving people there too.

So, yeah, I think it's not as final as, like kind of a workplace transition. Yeah. this isn't just credentialing. This is about where we, where we give our energy, where we give our love.

Elsie: We had another question sent in by Dr. Pamela Lightsey. What do you think will be, if any, the influence of politics on theological education over the next three to five years? And how do we properly prepare for that changing dynamic?

Patrick: That's a very pointed question. Uh, I love it. You know, politics in three to five years, you know, I don't know what it's gonna look like. The country's more pol… I could do all the stuff. Christian nationalism on the rise, polarization is on the rise. We seem to be at an inflection point in our country. I heard that in 2008 when Obama got elected. I heard that, on a very positive side, as a progressive Chicano Catholic with indigenous roots, married to a Jewish woman who's also got indigenous roots. Like we were arriving as a country in 2008. And 2016, I mean, I remember coming into the office after Trump got elected and having a collective moment with the staff, where people were just heartbroken and challenged.

So if anything, I mean, I say to Pamela like, change consistently happens. And politics blows my mind. And one of the things I think is really great about having deep ancestral roots and being tied to them and being trained in my grandmother's curanderismo and she was a Curandera and she was also a devout Catholic. And that has a long, troubled history and especially on this, on this land. And as I think about raising my kids in a future where they're looking at robots, machine learning, AI, you know, global devastation. I don't know what those things will look like. I'm more scared about 5-10 years of all the impact on society than I am about politics cuz I think politics are pretty far behind the rest of the change in the world. 

I was a history major at Sac State, made it Sac State - Me and Lester Holt. And one of the history classes we did was like intellectual history. And one of the books we read was Edward Bellamy's, Looking Backward, and I'm gonna have to fact check this cause I'm pretty sure I haven't read the book since then, so I'd have to check it and make sure that I'm talking about the right book.

But [if] my memory serves me, it  was about corporations taking over, around this time, taking over and taking over politics. So everyone worked for a company, the same company that governed them, that took over. And I feel like we're in one of those moments where a couple really big companies are driving global, politics and global economies in the way that the church used to. I'm nervous for the future and I think one of the gifts that we can do as religious leaders, theological educators, as scholars, as practitioners, as healers, is ground people, in kind of a deeper truth and knowing. 

Can I drop a Battlestar Galactica reference? All right, so just so people are aware, I'm a really weird dude. I love Battlestar Galactica, the new one. Edward James Olmos is like, you know, a Chicano superhero to all of us. So they have their own religion, right? Cylons have come, machine learning, AI, the robots are looking like us. They're in space trying to find a new home. It's very reflective of the, I think, the current political environment that we're in - in the technological environment. And there's a side thread of the machines have their own religion and the humans have theirs sort of coming together. They have their mantras, they have their practices. They even actually do have a religion that kind of grounds them in their ethics. 

And I think that's where we're at. I'm not called to be Adama. I'm not called to be the person who's driving the military machine. I'm trying to think about how to keep humans alive. But I do think there's like a grounding, like a soulful moment, the presence of woman, a teacher, that's trying to remain…keep the human soul. We have to save the people and that doesn't just mean long term, that means the people we have right in front of us. Um, so yeah, I just, I love B S G and the way that they depict that moment. And I think if people need something to reflect on politics and the changes in AI and all stuff, you know, rewatch BSG, I think, or the remake of it. That's what I think we are called to do is kind of be spiritual grounding for our troubled time. 

Elsie: We have another recorded question for you. This one is gonna be a little more fun from Dr. Kate Ott.

Kate Ott: Patrick, this is Kate Ott. You will perhaps remember I ended my interview with you by noting that my energy is often far too much for the average human. And that that energy is fueled by supportive, inquisitive, positive relationships in my life. I wonder, Patrick, what fuels you - your energy and your work?

Patrick: You do, Kate Ott! And so do all the other people I get to hang out with. I thrive on people and the environment, like being around both nature and other humans just gives me life. And there's not a lot of places you can go where you don't have those things. So, yeah, I think in a similar way, my energy can be a lot for some people, especially when I'm just kind of just being me. I'm just all in, just being goofy, thinking about life and, you know, making jokes and dreaming dreams. I love that. Yeah, what makes me thrive is I also can, I mean kind of like Sound of the Genuine, find my mute button. I don't think I would be partnered if I didn't have a mute button somewhere deep down, cuz my partner wouldn't…wouldn't have been cool if it was just all me all the time.

And, you know, the conversations, going back to when I was in seminary when we met, you know, we go back to those conversation - sharing about music and culture and our people and yeah, just going deep. So yeah, that's what fuels me. What drives me is other people and their dreams and what they're excited about. I am one of those people, if you tell me you're excited about something…book, a show, a hobby, a sport, a bird - I will go and read that book. I will go and watch that show. I'll go listen to that podcast. I'll go find that bird. I will do everything I can to share in that joy that that person has found with those things.

Yeah, this is part of my curiosity about other people and what they're up to. Like, oh, you said that was really cool? I wanna check that out. So this is a great question from Kate, and if you haven't listened to her episode, she talks about clowns, clown priests. [That] also makes me curious like, I wanna be a clown priest when I grow up.

I do love a great cup of coffee. I have talked about it so much. I love, love, love a great cup of coffee, just like I love a great cup of Keanu Reeves and anything that he's in. So yeah, there's lots of things that give me life.

Elsie: You are well aware of how you close each episode of the Sound of the Genuine when you ask our guests where their vocation comes from, uh, is it internal or is it from the community? I think everyone is well aware what your answer will be, like well aware. Even if they never heard another episode of the Sound of the Genuine and they only listen to this one, I think they'd be pretty clear how you would answer that question.

Instead of asking that, I'd be interested to know what you're excited about. And it doesn't have to be serious. It doesn't have to be like next steps for you. It could be entertainment, it could be projects, it could be something that's on the horizon for your family. Like what are you excited about, for the near future? And the weirder the better.

 Patrick: The weirder the better. I love it. What am I excited about. Today I am excited about… my son is getting into science fiction. I said that my kids are writing stories, or they're big into writing stories and he's into reading all kinds of cool adult sci-fi stuff that is probably too advanced - he's only 10. So I've enjoyed talking to him about those theories and concepts that he's getting from, he just started the Parable series. He was reading Bradbury last week. So as he tries to make sense of these worlds and these kind of traumatic worlds, as he's coming of age, he's also writing things.

And my kids are very hopeful, optimistic, and joyful, even though they've come just out of a pandemic. And I am super, super excited for what they are gonna create in ways that I couldn't even imagine - the communities they're a part of. So, I mean, one thing you know, thinking about my son in particular, [he’s] part of the deaf and hard of hearing community, he goes to New Mexico School for the Deaf. It's awesome. We're, as a family, trying to learn a new language in ASL, so we can be better participants in that community that he's a part of. And seeing the way we function in those spaces and the new people that we're meeting and the new stories and the way of telling stories is a gift.

It's a gift to be an outsider and a visitor in a culture that I'm not indigenous to. I'm just so joyful and like excited that I'm the guy that they ask, “Why are you here?” Whereas, you know, most spaces like, you know, it's tied to work or tied to something I'm passionate about. So it's been really cool to see my kids grow up. And, you know, I think, one other thing I'm really excited about - it's gotta be something tied to this moment that we're in, in a sort of post pandemic, but not really. We've lost a million, over a million elders in this country. I think excitement's probably not the right word. It's probably more like anticipation or hope that we'll start to see people take better inventory of that and try to do a deeper dive on those histories and those stories that we've lost too soon.

And the gratitudes we needed to share that we didn't, and the healing that needs to happen before more death happens. So I think it's brought kind of a deeper awareness for the people I'm around to say, I love you to people every single day as much as possible, and to look people in the eyes, or to call them or to go visit and spend that time, cuz we just lived through something where the expectation of how long we're supposed to be together isn't there anymore.

And so I'm very much looking forward to what I feel like is a cultural reset around values. And I hope that we stick to that. That we can put people first or put the people on the earth first and spend some time on it. And I think that has just been a gift. I joke, for those who don't know me, I don't think that much about death in a way that's like death is final. I'm looking forward to hopefully the roast that people give me at my funeral, whenever that comes. That I'm making lists of, you know, joys and concerns and memories and my own jokes about other people that we're making great lives together.

And I can't wait to spend more time with more people. That just gives me excitement and joy. And maybe, you know, if Pixar ever calls me back, that would make me really excited too. 

Elsie: We're not gonna get a word about the the new Spider Verse movie?

Patrick: Oh my gosh, June. Okay, so here's the thing, like Spider-Man into the Spiderverse, the first one was like the greatest movie ever made. Love that movie. That movie is so good and it opens, after a couple weeks of...where I'm going is Auburn Seminary. I’m going to be the new dean. It's in New York. So I might be able to see the movie in New York and I might be the only person who like intentionally travels to go see it in the space. Cuz space and place are important. So I'm really excited about that movie. Excessively excited about that movie. Yeah that and Elemental - Pixar's got a new movie coming out, so I'm excited about that.

Yeah, since I have the quiet and I don't know what's gonna happen next week, can I do the like recording of gratitude on this call? 

Elsie: Absolutely. 

Patrick: All right. So, for folks who aren't aware, I've been at FTE since 2016. I feel like we've done a lot since 2016. I was originally hired on just to do doctoral initiatives, which is our historic doctoral fellowship, since 1968. I had that narrative and that work down pat just like everyone else. In 2019, we started a reorg. 2020 we launched in January and by March and we were all in the pandemic. And I feel like at FTE, with this group of people, I am, I'm so grateful because we just live through a triple pandemic, I would say quadruple pandemic, where this is the group that we lived through something that. I couldn't, I would never have imagined that on March 13th, 2020, we said we were no longer going to the office, which was kind of a home base for that. We saw family members, you know, folks on staff and partners and doctoral fellows, people who lost and died, during the pandemic. We had the social unrest around race, immigration. I think just about anyone who wasn't white was targeted over the same period and people died and were murdered. You know, this is going all the way back, you know, I'm thinking about my wife's family, Tree of Life synagogue, the murdered/missing indigenous women, Latinos in the border. We were locking up children in 2019 at the border. And then of course, you know, George Floyd and what came after - the kind of social unraveling. You know, the pandemic of economic injustice that we've continued to perpetuate, and people getting really rich during this time. And then the rise of this global climate change, where our kids who are stuck at home are learning every single day about how this world may not exist anymore.

And then the rise of machines, like technology's taken over our lives in ways that we can't un-connect ourselves even from our phone when we literally…I mean, at this point, we have a device we can set down. That won't always be the case. And I feel like, you know, this technology addiction and lack of attention span that we have away from these devices to be with other people.

We just lived through all this together. And FTE is the team that I navigated the highs and lows of life with. And I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for, when I came in 2016 with Matthew Wesley Williams, whose story is featured here on the Sound of the Genuine. And he is a great storyteller and, I mean, I'm sitting with his story and the wisdom that he had from his Sound of the Genuine episode where the storm that came over Chicago and he was running all over the house as a kid and he runs out cuz he is looking for his mom. And she's out on the porch just watching the storm - and kind of being that calm in his life and what a gift it is to be invited into that story.

And then him talking about that in the transition of his mom in formative years in his life and him sharing the gift of his life and his health journey. I mean, I just think, you know, what a gift that is. You know, working with both of you, Elsie and Heather, who I…you know, with the ups and downs of helping doctoral students and people and young adults and trying to put resources together and be an administrator, cuz this is an administrative heavy job and yet be relationally engaged with people, and caring for each other is really…it's a gift to spend as much time as we have together.

And again, I said it, this is not a joke, you know, we lived through floods, fires, no power together, in our programs. And I couldn't imagine doing that with anyone else. And the gift and joy that is to see our families, again, highs and lows with that. And Kimberly and Christina, Darlene, Stephen, you know, Diva, all the folks who have worked…Chris Mason, Chris McCain who left in 2018/2019, something like that. Just the gift that is to work alongside people who really cared about the work. You know, Ted, I still remember Ted, who is our assistant administrator, came to one of our events when he first got reorged to our team and we were doing an in-person event and he took his first selfie. Like, that's cool!

You know, it's just, it's just joy. He was so happy to be where we were at the event. And Paul, you know, has helped me through a lot of health crisis and family stuff. So like this is the team, that I'll never forget and I'm extremely grateful for because, all of us have lived and loved through, through a moment in history that, is something that people will be studying for a really long time, the long term impact of.

And I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude and the board members and leadership and faculty and of course all the fellows I've been able to work with and get to know and know the names of their parents and their kids and family. I'm just really grateful after and a half years to spend this much time loving this such great people. I mean, that's a, that's a gift. So I'm, I'm deeply grateful for all of this and for everyone who, cuz this will be on the Sound of the Genuine for all the guests that we've had on the Sound of Genuine who really opened up their internal lives, for us. So yeah, it's a gift.

Elsie: We're grateful for your leadership and for your supreme hosting abilities on a podcast like this, where you found that mute button fairly early. It doesn't mean we didn't get a lot of high quality audio of you being very, very weird. And for that I'm personally grateful. I do have an archive that I'll send over to you and your family so that you can enjoy that whenever you want to laugh at yourself. 

But we are grateful for your leadership, for your storytelling, making sure that the ancestors were always in the room for us. We're grateful for the way that you listen, the way that you ask thoughtful and insightful questions and the way that you stand with us in this gap between where we are now and where we want to be. 

Particularly grateful for the way that you've modeled really healthy leadership for me and for Heather. I know that we've both grown a lot, being able to see the way you work, and the way you care about people and how you're not afraid to let people know how you feel about them. Thank you also for taking the time to do this with us. And we won't say goodbye, but see you later. 

Patrick: Aww, I'm grateful.

Hey, what's going on. It is Dr. Patrick B. Reyes the host of the Sound of the Genuine. This is my final episode.  I am moving on to a new opportunity at Auburn Seminary in New York City as the new dean. I really just want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to you the listeners who have spent so much time with the many inspirational guests that we've had on this show who have shared their life stories: Their hopes, their dreams, their joys, their many challenges and the ways that they've overcome them. I want to say thank you to the guests who have opened up and shared their lives with me. When we connect heart to heart, when we love each other deeply, it is a gift. All the guests that we've had have poured so much love and compassion into me, into to you, the listener, into themselves, into the broader community. 

I want to say thank you to my team, Heather Wallace and Elsie Barnhart, who I've been able to work with for the last seven and a half years, who have journeyed to making this podcast and putting it on our courses at FTE so that way people have inspiring stories, to learn from people that we care very deeply about. 

To @siryalibeats beats who put together our music. Finally, I just want to say thank you to FTE for allowing me to bring the joy, the love of my ancestors, and my descendants to this space. For the love and joy that your ancestors and the institution, which is made up of so many people: fellows, partners, friends, learners, listeners, who have poured their love back into me. Not just me, but my children have been changed for it. 

I'm just so grateful for the gift of time and space in a moment in the world that we were able to slow down enough to hear the sound of the genuine in each other. To call each other more deeply into love and life. I'm just so grateful. Thank you to each of you for being a part of this journey. 

And I just want you to know, I will always be here to help you find the Sound of the Genuine in you. I love you all very much.