In the Shadow: A Prayer in Memory of Desmond Tutu and bell hooks


I want to write a great prayer

in memory of the Black excellence of Desmond Tutu and bell hooks.

Something that shows their fierce dedication to freedom and compassion.

But all I can picture is Desmond laughing in heaven,

overjoyed by every person he meets

And bell hooks, finding new womanist, queer, feminist aspects we didn’t know yet!

The Rosa Parks and Toni Morrisons who didn’t make the history books

making notes and translating it to us in a language we can feel in our souls!

God, I keep reflecting on how much of Tutu and hooks’ theology

is part and parcel of my everyday theology

“find why the babies are in the river”

“Love is an action never silly a feeling”

“if you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor”

“queer is the self which is constantly at odds with everything else”

I am fluent in the love of bell hooks and Desmond Tutu, without ever having met either one of them, or even having heard them speak.

It was mostly informal–through osmosis, their love broke through!

Here I am– standing in the shadow of Black beauty and knowledge

Thanks to them.

Thank you for the gift of their lives God. Thank you for their work, their bravery,

their love,

their imperfections, their power

and most of all their willingness to teach us all.

Thank you God.


Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Images From:,h_3119,c_limit/GettyImages-1178375349.jpg


Author: katyandtheword

Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ. She is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible. "Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.[66] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times.

One thought on “In the Shadow: A Prayer in Memory of Desmond Tutu and bell hooks”

  1. Thank you for linking these precious warriors. I discovered this while trying to provoke folks from a black/white church dialog. And yes, on another less: I said it to my wife last night: Betty is “something we can all agree on.”

    In return, as you are in the theo-world, I invite you to search the name Alexus Rhone, an acquaintance who is theologian/ pastor/, performance/ artist storyteller.

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