A Letter from Nichola Torbett

A Letter from Nichola Torbett

Nichola Torbett

When I was nine or ten, I wanted to turn the five acres of woods where I had been born, and where my dad still lived, into a place where anyone could come and be in relationship with the land. I didn’t have a name for what I envisioned—I didn’t know about retreat centers then—but I knew I had learned secure attachment from the trees and self-determination from the raccoons and foxes, and I wanted everyone to have access to these transformative relationships.

A few years later, my family lost access to that land, but the idea of a land-based healing and collective liberation center never fully receded. When I learned that Lydia Wylie-Kellermann—someone I already loved and respected based on our shared connections to GEEZ Magazine and other radical discipleship projects—was becoming the executive director of a place called Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, I immediately jumped online and crawled all over the website. And then, months later, when she mentioned wanting to hire an associate director to focus at least 25% on racial justice…well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The last fifteen years of my life in Oakland, California, have been dedicated to movements for racial and economic justice. I have coordinated political education and spiritual formation series, organized liturgical direct actions in support of affordable housing and in full-throated opposition to police terror and runaway gentrification, helped to convene a national gathering of Jesus-followers active in the Black Lives Matter movement, led antiracism workshops for white people, and provided spiritual care and accompaniment to activists. 

Throughout all of this, I have been personally restored by long hours among the gentle redwoods and along the moody Bay, but I have not had a way to combine my movement commitments with my love of the land.

I am so excited to bring those together in this next chapter, and to combine them with my newer explorations of ancestral lineage healing. I can’t wait to see what the Spirit will do at these intersections when they join up along Fox Gap Road.

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