Learning from Laughter and the Trees: The Child Come to Make Story Sacred Again

20190109_083129By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
January 13, 2019

He wouldn’t get in his car seat. He screamed and arched his back. I felt the exhaustion in my own back with the car filled with groceries. Do I sit down and wait it out? Do I offer him candy? (I didn’t have any) Do I physically force his small body into the seat?

Out of desperation, I said “If you get into your seat, I will tell you the story of what happened three years ago on the day you were born.” Continue reading

Sermon: Becoming my Body

thirdtrimeseter

Third trimester By Julia Jack-Scott

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Day House, Detroit Catholic Worker, January 14, 2018

Psalm 40:2, 7-10
1 Samuel 3: 3-10, 19
1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20

I am not a body person. I feel my identity rests in my head and my heart and far too often, I think of my body only as a tool. A means to an end. It helps me get me where I want to go, but it is not….me.

Lately, I’ve been sitting with health fears for loved ones as tests are done to see if there are things growing in their bodies. And I realized the fear that swells up in me. I don’t understand the body. How could something be killing someone I love from the inside without us knowing?

I grew up along Michigan Avenue where, even as a child, cars pulled over or hollered or followed. I learned what it was like to be a woman in this country and to be seen only as a body. And there is outrage in that rises up, for I want to be seen for the workings of my mind and not the shape of my body. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Power, Pain, and Extraction

first family of 4 picBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I don’t like pregnancy. I am not one of those people that walks around glowing, rubbing my tummy, and delighting in the attention. I am not proud of this. In the midst of pregnancy, I feel like I am losing my body, my strength, my sleep, my social abilities, and even my mind, all for something that I cannot yet touch or know. But birth on the other hand, I was ready for! I had learned the first time round that I could trust my body and the wisdom it held. My body was made to deliver these children. All I had to do was let my body work and to breathe.

I back labored with Isaac for multiple days and nights. We did most of the work at home arriving at the hospital already 9 cm. He was born with no medical or pain interventions. As Isaac leapt from me on that final push, he was caught by the same hands that caught me three decades earlier. We probably would not have been in a hospital setting, if it were not for choosing those hands. She is the doctor who holds the history of my own body and pain. She carries with her a deep sense of calm and sharp attention. You know she will fight like hell to advocate on your behalf. Continue reading

First and Final Acts: Water as Sacrament

100_2372By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

(A reflection written about water and homecomings- the birth of Isaac three years ago and my mom’s passing ten years ago)

Ringing out the warm wash cloth, I laid it upon her face in my final act of love upon this body that had held my own. Drops upon her lips reminded me of a million kisses upon my forehead and pausing on her eyelids I was struck by the power in a glance pierced with love for me. I washed her this hair feeling beneath it to the scars and bone shifts drawing me back to a dozen surgical waiting rooms. In all its simplicity, water empowered within us a sacrament of love and grief. The water which nourished her life with endless joy and beauty now called her home.

In a handcrafted simple wooden box her ashes dwell as deep as we could dig. To earth she has returned. I sit in the rain watching and envying the pine needles that rest upon her body. Even now, long after death, the water nourishes her. My son waddles over picking up pine cones and rests them on his Grandma Jeanie’s little patch of ground unaware yet blessed just the same.

My love for him came with a big gush of water that had held him close for many months. Rushing over his body and down my legs, water baptized us both in a commitment of love altering life forever. Warm washcloth in hand, I washed the blood from his face giving equal care to learn by heart his soft lips and tiny eyelids. As I bathed this beautiful child with water, I welcomed him home.

Birth: The conspiracy of Soul and Body

birthBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann (printed in Conspire, Fall 2014)

It was unseasonably warm as I carefully stepped onto the next wrung balancing the extra weight and size. My body called me into those trees as I deliberately and gently trimmed the small, sucker branches. First the apple tree, then the peach, then the plum. Being past my due date, I knew I probably shouldn’t be on a ladder, but I kept climbing higher and higher. Continue reading