A Sermon, A Poem, A Prayer? To Speak as Water

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Preached at Day House Detroit Catholic Worker, February 18, 2018
Originally posted on the Radical Discipleship blog

Genesis 9:8-15
1Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

Who am I?
I am fierce and gentle.
I am life and death.
I am ancient and new.
I am solid and fluid and gas.
I am in you and around you.
I am above you and below you.
I am the snow and the rain,
The creek, the stream,
the river, and the sea.

I’ve lost my natural curve
And the symbiotic relationship
With cedars and salmon and cat tails,
As I’ve been made straight
in cement canals and underground pipes.
My aqueducts have been pumped dry.
Powerful made powerless
By engineers and profiteers
And my clouds are growing heavy.

I have watched the humans
As their factories push out creatures to consume,
As the birds’ wings are too oil laden to fly
And the geese no longer know which way to fly
As the fruit buds bloom while the snow yet falls
As the ice chunks crash into the ocean
And my clouds are growing heavy.

As people freeze to death in tents beside the church
And die of thirst and disease
As the money rolls in profitizing
from the gift of my body.
My sister air has become poison in the lungs of children.
Metal runs through veins ruining the minds of the young.
And my clouds are growing heavy.

The rain and snow still fall covering the earth
But there is more weight in my flake
More rage in the wind
More tears in my downpours.
The sorrow is measured
in each millimeter of rise on the sea
And my clouds are growing heavy
Carrying the weight of this world


A long time ago, I spread across the plains
In a moment that held a similar pain
As brothers killed brother and war was created.
Creation groaned. God hung her head.
It was the two-legged beings
In their arrogance that forced the rain to fall.
Only creatures 2 by 2 were saved
Afloat my harboring seas.

Our tears let loose.
We raged and stormed and covered the earth
Watching life reach toward the sky begging for life.
I watched the cities drown
And the weapons sink below the sand.

I saw the few cry out “Oh Lord, what have we done?”
And others argue “We knew not what we’d done.”
But they knew
And my clouds were heavy.


At last the sun shown and my clouds were free
The rainbow appeared and God spoke
To humans, and eagles, and sparrows,
To the cows and goats,
To the ants, and centipedes, and frogs
To all the wild and wonderful beings.
“I establish my covenant with you:
Never again will all life be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
never again will there be a flood
to destroy the earth.”

My rainbow was hung
Like a bow disarmed
Made of light and tears
As a reminder of the love of God
And the commitment of the world
To one another.

And my molecules smiled
for my being
Would destroy no more.
I was going to be who I was uttered
In spirit to be.
I was not a deadly weapon
But a divine wonder.
Life bearer, earthly beauty,
Healer, friend, and blessing.

“Never again will the waters
become a flood to destroy all life.”
That pigeon flew through space and time
From ark to Jordan’s shore
And I was remembered not as flood
But as a reminder of blessing, and life,
And the communion of
Creatures, creation, and Creator.
Many, “were saved through water.”

It was my waters that sent Jesus
Into the wilderness that day
Where the wild animals sat beside him
As he too struggled against the weight of the world.
He had known these truths
Since the day his parents were forced to
Swoop him from the barn and go home by another way
As murder and power raged once more.

#timesup he said
Emerging from the wild
“The time has come,”
For healing, repentance,
Resistance, and in the end
Like rainbow
With bow and cross hung high
Earthly or godly weapons no more.
A reminder of the power of life
And that death has no dominion.

Generations have been hatched and birthed
And turned back into ashes.
And my clouds grow heavy
With the tears of these ten thousand years.

In truth, there is a piece of me that longs to penetrate
The worm trails and arsenal tunnels again.
To let loose the devastation of my sorrow.
To heal this place with the soggy soil of flood.
And then to rise again with sunshine
and watch the early sprouts of new green
nourished by my tears of thanks.

But I still love this place and
Each intricately woven eco system-
The two legged and four legged and winged ones
That roam the mountains and the dessert,
That is, of course, why I carry the weight in my clouds.

So, I’ve been letting me tears fall
Gentle at first
In hopes that they might be enough,
I pray they be enough,
To remember the promise
In time to stop the flood.
Let me be,
Let you be,
Who we were each uttered
To be.