is it always about differences

catholics often have
crosses and statues in their homes
home altars or places to pray
catholics kneel in church
cross themselves
have the rosary and give up meat for lent

protestants have family pictures
on their walls
may or may not pray before a meal
may or may not kneel for communion
sing a lot
and collect canned goods for the local food bank

catholics believe in signs
sap running from a tree that looks
like the virgin crying
protestants believe in dollar signs
street signs
signs that the weather is turning
but don’t think it likely a deity will manifest
on a slice of wonder bread toast

catholics confess to a priest
and can only be forgiven through
the intervention of a holy leader
protestants confess to God
and believe forgiveness comes
through repentance

catholics have the crucifix
with jesus in agony
protestants have a plain cross
with jesus no longer there
catholics celebrate the birth of christ
protestants celebrate the birth of christ
but mostly eat a lot
and compete for who gives the best gifts

and who has the most lights on their house
and who has the better santa on their roof
and who is the best christian by saying
merry christmas instead of happy holidays

i know it gets confusing
but the thing about protestants
is that religion is a side dish, not the main course
that life is about kindness
that “they will know we are Christians by our love”
not by how many rosaries hang from a rear view mirror

at least that is how i’ve worked it
and was raised to believe that all religions
are a matter of each to his own
no one religion is correct or right
and heaven is between you and your God
not something granted through membership

i was taught
that there are many paths in life
and that right and wrong are a matter
of what’s best for everybody
not what’s best just for yourself
i was taught that integrity is its own prize
and respect is earned
by knowing yourself
but knowing it’s not about you

it’s about greater things
greater things in heaven and earth
it’s about exploring
but never forgetting how to find your way home
it’s about knowing you only understand very little

faith is not about bringing someone to church
it’s about knowing all of life teaches lessons
and some of them are hard

being a christian simply means i don’t actively try to hurt others
but being myself
will always mean i stand my ground
if the ground is there

being myself means i’m not interested one little bit in saving your soul
because i believe no soul is lost
i believe we are molded by circumstance
i believe God may or may not exist
i believe in fostering hope over feeding despair
i believe destiny will only happen because pattern creates predictability
i believe that there is a reason for living by a code
such as you don’t hurt others feelings by not inviting them to a party
no matter the occasion
you don’t exclude based on your belief in their refusal
you still offer
for that is the code of hospitality
the code that is older than religion
stronger by far
i believe you do not know the code
and don’t understand my obligation
i believe it is hard for you to grasp that i don’t care what you believe in
i don’t care what anybody believes

because by my experience, no belief can move a mountain
but faith in your fellow human beings can help many a man
climb many a hill

i believe i am nothing more
than how i was programmed
how i was raised

but i have faith that those others
were also only interested in finding the better way
the place where humanity forgets itself
and remembers strength is something precious we only have for a short while

i believe that i am more than a christian
to be pigeonholed and understood some way
because i believe you are a sum of your actions
and that labels are used by those
who cannot compute on individual levels

i believe that time will change things
i believe that we all make our personal hells
but the only thing God sentences us to…. is to be human
i believe that we all make our personal heavens

i think life itself is a gift
each day something to treasure
i believe that each person has something to contribute
i believe that when i am out of answers
God finds me
i don’t find God

i count myself as nothing and everything
because i know if i fall
many will, too
i know that it hurts my feelings to be misunderstood
i know that at some point i will have to look beyond what is gained
and face what is lost

and i know that i look at life differently
than every other person on earth
but that doesn’t make me better or worse
it just makes me someone who never compromised her own design

it makes me the fount of my own understanding
yet understanding i have nothing without the scope of existence within entire humankind
i allow myself to be called a Christian
a Methodist
a Catholic
a Lutheran
a Mormon
a Crazy person
Bipolar scum not fit to do anything
i allow people the comfort of labels
and i even let you think of me as religious
but what i really am is someone who has explored life
in order to say it was explored

and i don’t need permission to be who i am



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