A Love Letter to Word and World

From Lydia Wylie-Kellermann Picture1

Word and World was birthed three hundred feet away from my freshman high school classes. I have been lovingly molded by this thing as I began to imagine my own vocation in activism and faith. I came to my first school (Philly) when I was seventeen years old. In Minneapolis, the community wrapped my mom in a quilt in her dying months when I was nineteen. The mentoring program called me deeper into relationship with mentors and mothers so deeply needed inspiring and allowing for a love of writing. From marriage to giving birth, anti-war activism in Baltimore to local economies in Detroit, Word and World has been home, church, school, community, and family. My heart aches with gratitude. A few words to try to express.

Thank you for bringing life to the ancient communities struggling for justice
survived only by word held sacred.
for the gatherings of women so desperately needed and so alive with wisdom.

Thank you for honoring the elders and knowing the gift of their presence and their listening.
for the grace of growing into elders yourselves
and calling forth young folks who need your insight and friendship.
for the intergenerational collaboration of a host of projects.

Thank you for always honoring the song and the poet.
for the spaces carved aside for putting pen to paper that have summoned a deep joy in me.
for Sabbath time and body work.

Thank you for rooting in places of history and movement
for creating space to tell those stories.
for holding pain and suffering in your hearts.
for the learning that leads to action in the streets.
for the resistance to empire, violence, and domination that weaves through everything.

Thank you for holding this thing even when relationships were hard and meetings went late.
for the hard work around race and sexuality
and the gifts that emerged from those struggles.
for a million conference calls that keep me connected to your voices afar.

Thank you for liturgies so alive with spirit you could see it.
for the preaching that moved through my heart and into my feet.
for holding the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

Thank you for showing me the joy of geeking out on the bible.
for being able to tell jokes and throw great parties.

Thank you for honoring the times it felt right for this thing to die.
for not letting it anyway.

Thank you for loving me.
for wrapping my mom in a quilt for her to die under and feeling you all as a quilt around me.
for taking seriously the question of how to die well in our culture.

Thank you for the hard moments when I came face to face with my white privilege.
for the clarity to not use the bible as a weapon in the face of homophobia.

Thank you for all the histories and communities that you each brought to this work.
for the deep and old relationships you have with one another.

Thank you for sharing with me a Christianity worth staking my life on.

And thank you now for coming to my home in Detroit.
For the melding of two of my greatest teachers.
For adding another stream and school.
This time the streams of our watersheds.
Thank you for taking up the risks and gifts of engaging dialogue of environmental activists
from biblical, hip hop, and indigenous traditions.
Thank you for all the learning, growing, mourning, loving, and creating that is to come.


(Art by Julia Jack-Scott during the Mentoring Program)

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