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: Yogurt and Blueberries”

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

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: Tell Me About Easter, Mommy.”

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: Power, Pain, and Extraction”

Learning from Laughter AND THE TREES

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 AND THE TREES”

Learning from Laughter: Sitting in Court- An Advent Story

isaac homrich cait
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 “Learning from Laughter: Sitting in Court- An Advent Story”

Learning from Laughter: Gratitude as the only Resistance to Greed

gratitudeBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Last March, Isaac joined us in a circle with eight college students having just completed a week long immersion trip in Detroit. We sat in the dark passing a candle around naming gratitudes for the week. The candle traveled around the circle again and again as the room filled with the realization of abundance in the relationships and the learning. Isaac sat quietly, on the eve of his second birthday, watching in awe and listening and waiting patiently for his turn to hold the candle and name a gratitude. Each time he held the candle he smiled, looked around, and proudly named something….almost always it was for “playing trains.” But I was amazed that he got the concept and indeed named what he was grateful for.

This kid has continued to be filled with gratitude. He says thank you all the time! Isaac and I have been working in the backyard stacking wood for the winter and each time I hand him a log he says “Thank you mommy.” And I can’t help but say it right back repeating it with each piece of wood. A couple months ago, we sat down to dinner, and before we held hands to sing a prayer, out of the blue he said “Thank you for cooking dinner mama.” That may just have been his first complete sentence! Damn, I am a lucky mother. This kid is an amazing reminder of the constant goodness and gratitude in our lives. Continue reading “Learning from Laughter: Gratitude as the only Resistance to Greed”

Learning from Laughter: The Pumpkin that Cried Tears

isaac pumpkinBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann as part of her series on parenting- Learning from Laughter.

With the table covered in newspaper, the three of us began carving pumpkins. Isaac embraced the gunk helping to pull it out while the Halloween music played and the moon shown out the window. When it came time to cut the faces, I sat beside him and asked what he wanted. We drew it out together in marker. He told me he wanted square eyes and a triangle nose. Out of the blue he insisted that the pumpkin have a mustache. Then I asked about the mouth. Do you want a smile? “No. It’s a sad pumpkin.” I tried to draw a sad mouth. Then he said “Pumpkin crying.” He was asking for tears. I carved out some tears falling from the square eyes. He smiled in total delight and pride at his sad pumpkin. Continue reading “Learning from Laughter: The Pumpkin that Cried Tears”

Learning from Laughter: Wedding Veils and Wrestling

familyBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann.

Isaac pulls a green sheet off the floor puts it over his head and says “You getting married.” (He still refers to himself as “you”). He brings Patrick, the life-size stuffed dog out of his room and stands him up to pretend they are getting married. I don’t know where he got the idea, but all I can do is smile and say “You look beautiful.”
Continue reading “Learning from Laughter: Wedding Veils and Wrestling”

Learning from Laughter: Speaking Truth to Innocence

lydia die inBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. First published on Geez’s blog.

The sun hits my face hard as I listen to the water from the fountain. As I look up and around, I am aware how little this downtown resembles the city I know anymore. The faces are all young and white (not unlike my own) playing beach ball, listening to live bands, sipping mid-day cocktails, and eating from food trucks. I look down at the 25 black bodies lying on the cement draped with signs and names of those killed at the hands of the police. On my lap sits the one-and-a-half year old who is my constant companion and teacher these days. He watches intently holding an air of seriousness in his body. Continue reading “Learning from Laughter: Speaking Truth to Innocence”

Learning from Laughter: Sabbath Economics Support Group for Parents

cherriesBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“But one of the greatest gifts we feel she can receive is a life in this community: we want her to know and feel the love of people who are alive, who don’t give a damn about money and who are willing to do with their lives what they think God is asking”                                             – Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann Continue reading “Learning from Laughter: Sabbath Economics Support Group for Parents”