Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Under the Apple Tree Again

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Grandpa, Cedar, and Isaac digging the hole for Scatters under the apple tree.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

The rain is pouring down with periodic rumbles of thunder. It is cold and the sun has set, but we can tell that there is a need in Isaac’s heart to make this trek. We put on hats and shoes and give into the rain as we walk down the street and into the backyard of my dad’s house.

It’s too dark to see the loosened soil, but we bend down low and Isaac says, “This is where we buried Scatters.” Cedar, who is almost two, bends down too and after a minute looks up at Erinn and says “Meow” and points to the dirt. Erinn says, “Is this where Scatters is? Did he die?” Cedar responds, “Meow die.” Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Even Donald Trump

photo(1)By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

We were sitting in the car and I had somehow managed to have NPR on rather than some song about trains on repeat. I have to start being careful, because Isaac is listening and understanding what he is hearing. I don’t remember the context, but on the radio it says “She loves people.”

“Mommy, it said she loves people.” Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Yogurt and Blueberries

kiddos-2By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. Written on January 11, 2017.

11 years ago today, I was heading back to school, to community two weeks after my mom died.
9 years ago today, I was getting off a plane from France having just met the love of my life.
8 years ago today, I was in Washington DC protesting Guantanamo as Obama prepared to take office.
2 years ago today, I was working on a Word and World school in Detroit on Environmental Justice.
1 year ago today, after a labor that was cooped by the medical industry, I gave birth to Cedar.
And today?….

Today I lost the battle to get Isaac to school. I couldn’t get him out the door. Knowing that I couldn’t let him just stay home and have fun if I wanted him to go next week, I told him that I could not play or engage. That this was my working time. I set a timer for when school would end. Told him I loved him and I would talk to him when the timer went off (a mantra I would repeat a hundred times over the next two hours). I handed him a yogurt stick and a box of blueberries and left him alone. After some protesting, he got quiet…so I peaked in. There he was in the living room, using his yogurt stick to make twenty yogurt circles on the floor and carefully putting one blueberry on top of each pile. When his work was finished, he yelled “Mommy!” He was good at this game. He wasn’t going to let us not engage for two whole hours. He was ready to destroy the house if need be. I took a deep breath and told him I would talk to him after the timer. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Tell Me About Easter, Mommy.

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Photo credit: Erinn Fahey

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“Tell me about Easter, Mommy.” Oh, Shit. Has that time come already? How to explain resurrection to a three year old? How do I tell my kid that Jesus died and came back to life? How do I explain our most sacred story?

We’ve spent the last year and a half learning about death, holding it sacred, singing songs, holding fish funerals, burying my Grandma Bea, and visiting my mom’s grave. We’ve tried to hold the tension of telling him the truth and also being gentle with his heart paying close attention to any moments of confusion or fear. We made a decision to be honest with him about the very earthly reality of death, something that even adults in our culture try to ignore. Death is a beautiful, ordinary, and hard part of life. 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

Learning from Laughter AND THE TREES

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The first tree we climbed in Taize France in 2008.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann.

It has been eight wonderful years being with Erinn and as I look back I am struck by the trees. Leaves and branches and carpets of needles weave together our love story. At twenty-one, we climbed up an old tree laughing as we listened to the bells ring from the Taize monastery at the top of the hill. That tree led us to the hillsides in Palestine where we fell in love with the Olive trees as we watched them go up in flames from the Israeli-shot tear gas canisters. Soon, we lay together in a hammock beside my mother’s grave held in a circle of cedars imagining a life together. Then we committed our lives to one another under a red maple on the banks of the Tahquamenon River as we broke bread and shared wine. Soon, on a cold April day, we stood in a foreclosed yard covered by budding fruit trees staring up at a house where we would build a life. In that yard, the peas now climb the handcrafted cedar and grapevine arbor that canopied our vows. It was an apricot tree I was pruning when contractions began with Isaac. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter: Sitting in Court- An Advent Story

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Photo credit: Cait De Mott Grady

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“It’s not Christmas! It’s Advent!” declares my two-year old son loudly when strangers wish him a Merry Christmas. This kid carries his Grandma Jeanie’s spirit in his bold truth-telling with clear liturgical boundaries.

Advent is one of the things I have most looked forward to as a parent. It is a season of darkness, candles, slowing down, making Christmas gifts, wonder and joy, and learning the stories. Scriptures these days are filled with stories of our faith where the power dynamics are flipped on their head. Moments when after a long list of all those in power, God’s voice comes to John in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-6). Then of course, there is the story where amidst deportation and government counting, Jesus is born in a barn. The voice of God is not ringing from Kings or military warriors or presidents or bankers, it is in the poor, ordinary folk. Continue reading