I lost my religion
long before I knew what resistance meant,
long before the feminist rose inside of me,
long before I recognized the spirit
that is within me now.
It happened years ago,
as a little girl
sitting along the cedar pews of our west side church.
Following the path of my grandmother,
and the grandmother before her.
We were taught not to question.
But I sat in those pews each week
wondering why I was there,
why those prayers were lost on me,
lost among the hundreds of voices
echoing through the church,
rising up to the marble arched ceilings that contained me.
When would those words be translated
into a language that was known by me?
Cherished or owned by me?
I was disconnected from my truth,
even though it was written on the mirror,
looking back at me as I brushed my teeth each night.
My religion could not be found
in the doorway of that west side church -
but in the doorway inside of me,
where centuries of secrets and truths have been kept tight.
My religion is the access to that doorway
shadowed only by my own fear
and the trappings of the world that surrounded me,
holding me forever in isolation.
My religion is freedom from that isolated place,
that constructed life,
with its stone walls and sound-proof rooms.
My religion includes my sadness, my pain and my fear,
as well as my love, my courage and my hope.
It spills out into the space around me,
into the lives of my family, my friends, my work.
My religion is the spirit that I share with you.
It is the love that I forget sometimes,
because of my discomfort with institution.
But slowly, I am remembering.