the rebel for justice

tree dancing mamas

The rebel in me stirred.

Walking barefoot across the living room I felt the fist push through me. Oh yes, my inner rebel was roused.

A younger version of me would have assumed this surge of rebellion synced with the sin of Eve, wanting more than is mine to have, desiring that which lives beyond my capacity to manage or comprehend. A rebel reaching for another piece of forbidden fruit for which I must be chided.

But quick as I felt the rebel rise, I recognized her origin. The rebel in me gets restless when confronted with injustice. She weaves back and forth, back and forth, then back and forth again as wrongs unfold in front of her. And then she beats the air when she can look no more, when sight alone won’t suffice.

She’s not wanting what’s not hers; she’s wanting what God wants for all of us. She stirs without easy contentment because the wrongs remain unaddressed and people languish as we fiddle with budgets, contemplate our praxis and decide what to spend on Christmas gifts for our kids this year.


This is the rebel that gestated in the belly of the Hebrew midwives – scheming to save sons.

This is the rebel that punched about in Jochabed, first mother of Moses, constructing an ark to float her son away from Pharaoh’s edict.

This is the rebel that stirred in Bithiah, the Egyptian princess who would adopt Moses and raise him right under the nose of the empire.

This is the rebel that grew in Miriam, nursed on liberation lullabies and shaped by subversion, the woman who would become prophet and public theologian and the leader of the emancipation dance out of Egypt.

This is the rebel who refuses to accept the death warrant of the empire, who will not be co-opted by the narratives of scarcity and fear.

This is the rebel unbowed by oppression’s heavy hand, unwilling to sway to the ways of the unjust on her watch.

This is the rebel intuitively skilled in the guttural lexicon of grief, the groaning syncopated to the burned out stars and dying species, the one who teaches the community to cry.

This is the rebel born to sing freedom songs. Born to pound drums and set the cadence for exodus. Born with liberation in her blood – a deliverance dance she can’t deny.


People call her ways rebellious because she’s no respecter of the status quo. They call her trouble because she’s unafraid to rock boats and upset apple carts. They call her a rebel because she just won’t keep quiet about all the ways in which we are unjust, unkind and unable to love our neighbors.

I feel her rise up in me, troublesome and rebellious.

I welcome her kind. I am her kind. I am, in my most unvarnished moments, a rebel for justice. I have the juice of emancipation running through my veins and I want to bleed freedom.

My fist punches the sky…

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9 thoughts on “the rebel for justice”

  1. Jamie Wright Bagley
     ·  Reply

    May you be a fire-starter where the fire is most needed; may this passion be directed toward the truth of love in action. And may the Spirit stir this hunger for justice in all the hearts you touch. Thank you for these words.

  2. Diana Trautwein
     ·  Reply

    Love, love, LOVE this. Oh, good work, dear Kelley. You’re on the right track – oh yes, you are!

  3. Gwen Acres
     ·  Reply

    ‘She is wanting what God wants…’ Oh, that we all would have such passion!

  4. Bronwyn Lea
     ·  Reply

    So good. The rebel in me is stirred at the moment too, and reading this gave me a warrior cry. Thank you.

  5. Idelette
     ·  Reply

    YES!!!!!!!!! This is a beautiful roar.

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