I don’t have a religion. I believe in everything and nothing all at once. I learn from Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism. I learn from atheists and tree worshippers. And the one constant in all those places and people is that they want to be and want to love. So that’s my religion. It’s what I practice. It’s what I hope helps me grow on a daily basis and makes me want to be a better person.
The threat of hell or fire and brimstone don’t faze me. A life without love scares the shit out of me. If you’re asking me if I believe in ritual, which is what I think religion provides, that’s an entirely different question. What religion gives us is not faith or spirituality or God, it gives us practice. It gives us ritual.
I believe everything, if done with a full and pure heart, is a worship and a prayer. There are plenty of people who evoke Christ and attend church whose hearts hold no love. They are caught in the ritual. Belief in God is a full-bodied experience and it exists regardless of what “house” you choose to practice your ritual in.
Rituals are comforting. After 9.11, I wanted a ritual. I wanted somewhere to go and do something mindless and repetitive and ease the pain. So I’m not knocking ritual or religion. I’m just saying, it’s not the only way to God or enlightenment or truth. I believe in Universal Law. There are certain truths that we ignore in order to have someone else translate what we’re born knowing. That’s what fucks up, “My pastor said…” or “My priest said…” Ok. What do you say? What did God tell you? Were you even listening or were you too busy in ritual to hear it?
I was enriched with the ability to write and make my words evoke emotion in other people. Every time I write, I’m praising. I’m showing gratitude for what I’ve been given. Every time I dance, I’m giving a shout of praise. Every time I choose kindness over hate.
And I don’t live a perfect life. I get caught up in the everyday and I cuss folks out and I regret it, but atonement is an action. My “non-perfect life” still serves the God that lives within me and the God I see in others. I teach my son that God is in him and it’s in other people so when he sees someone, he treats them god-like. With kindness and courtesy and when he does something “wrong,” he understands he has to remedy it. He serves God with his kindness.
So yeah, I practice love. That is my religion. And as I get older, it gets easier and more difficult at the same time.