Bring your crosses, beads, rugs, peyote and ayahuasca. I'll bring a guitar. Amen.
If your from the south you've probably stood in The Church of the Holy Hippocrit once or twice. After our well-dressed family yelled hatefully at each other, we'd arrive late and sit on the cold, hard pews hearing about sins, but resting assured they were talking about someone else (because we were wearing ties damnit).
It was here I learned about Hell and sinners and the inevitable evil we all carry with us. I never learned about the Light or the Way. My Christianity was forged in fear. But it was cool, we could just come up if we wanted to be saved. I just wanted to be saved from this boa constrictor of a too-hot, too-tight Montgomery Ward button down shirt. And lunch. I wanted lunch.
I sat and stood and pretended to sing "He Arose" and "Because He Lives." Then, as we'd listen to the deacon's droning (a man my father might have just been dropping F-bombs on for "stealing" his parking place just 30 minutes earlier) I'd focus all my energy on staring into these huge dangling chandeliers. I had found the light.
What I discovered was that if I stared long enough, I could then blink and make a tiny, halo-like explosion appear magically anywhere in the room. A little flash of gold. I'd get my eyes loaded and blink like hell at those lights hoping they'd fall (everyone here but a couple poorly-dressed heathens were saved so surely no one would sustain injuries) and we'd get to go home early.
In my teens, I went to a more easy-going church where I was taught that Jesus also thought we had the capacity to be good humans instead of just being bad then forgiven. I wore loose-fitting t-shirts and kissed girls in youth group. I didn't fear the Lord.
I still don't think I know Jesus or God. But I know there is a path of compassion and love and energy that gets real close to what the stories of Jesus, Buddha, Muhammed, etc. were designed to teach us.
I learned to trust in a universal Way of Goodness because I met a woman whose every exhale sounds like the rejoicing of resurrection, the quiet of compassion, the banging of Bantu drums, and any other act that plays to the vastness of love.
I embrace the community of organized religion. But I'm equally horrified by the evil done by zealots in its name. So, here is my simple Universal Way of Goodness: We are all walking the same path, talking in different tongues. Let us be kind revelers in each other's company, for the journey is fucking hard. Look around. We are IN the promised land. Bring your crosses, your beads, your rugs, your peyote & ayahuasca. I'll bring a guitar. Amen.