...I want to be just like—no, more brilliant and fabulous than—Nancy Lynne Westfield and Heather Murray Elkins. If that is humanly possible. But they continue to teach me, just like Mother Mary, with God all things are possible.
These two women are beautifully bold, beautifully creative, beautifully brilliant, and beautifully beautiful. It is beautiful to be in their presence—to watch and listen. They know things that I want to know. They be in the world in ways that I want to be in the world. They are Master Teachers. They embody what they teach. They are my teachers, in and out of the classroom. They make me think. They make me laugh. They sometimes even make me cry. They trust my voice. They trust my wisdom. They push me, hard sometimes. They do things like teach classes that do the work of mending the rupture that has been created between body, mind, and spirit. They have helped me to heal my ruptures so that I may usher others into spaces of healing. They write books that matter. They make me want to write books that matter. They are radically different, it seems, yet they—in spirit and in truth—are kin folk. They are cut from the same cloth—some beautifully woven tapestry with reds and purples and blues.
Lynne is a radical in the best sense of the word. She brings brilliant Black folk to Drew to engage us in the work of God-Talk with Black Thinkers. She is brilliant Black folk herself. She brings artists and healers to Drew to engage us in the work of Spirituality and Imagination. She is an artist and healer herself.
Heather Elkins is a storyteller. She not only writes and speaks poetry; She is a poem. She moves in verse. She is a collector of all things holy and can find the holy in all things.
So, when I grow up—rather, as I am growing into my self—I want to be just like them: brilliant and bold and free...
Image of N. Lynne Westfield shot by Jameel Morrison (taken from http://depts.drew.edu/tsfac/westfield/)
Image of Heather Elkins sketched by Bon Jeong Koo (taken from http://depts.drew.edu/tsfac/helkins/)