I’ve tried religion. For a good portion of my life I followed the prescription of fast, pray, read your scriptures. I wanted to know what it felt like to feel the spirit and then, caught, wondered how to stop repenting. I stayed on that road until it became a path littered with my own failure to stay unquestioning enough to believe.

In the library of my small public school, I found an illustrated book of bible stories that I checked out many times, the pages a map of glorious hope that there was something I could be called to do, to be. I have always been a seeker, a finder of lovely words and possible magic. I sensed the divine in shadowy places, ever thinking I have finally found it.

I have known the study of book after book, spines broken against my questions, forever evolving past the point of needing them, only to open the next, the newest. The soul friends I have gathered saying no need for them to find the chapter and verse of their knowing, I will do that for them, bringing them the highlights, the best, the eye opening passages of insight sold and bartered for connection and togetherness.

There is a temple door, so small, so quiet, so brief, and the way to get there is to stop trying to get in; to stop trying to bring people with me. I fear being alone even in my love for alone-ness. I fear the empty chair more than I slow myself enough to sit. I endlessly speak—and that could be what locks the door to that small sacred place. The entryway key to my own salvation held fast in a hand that does not need saving.

Once religious, is there always a part that stays sorrowful? That pines for a shimmering afterlife while living in the here and now—that pleads, even silently, for redemption, absolution?

Once bereft of a connection to god, can there be connection? The cycle of worthiness played out without the release of the prayer of resolution, the supplicant left the same, unbaptized and dry, and yet—

There is one more way that calls to me, and it is one I have not dared try, because it must be alone, unshared and unspoken. I hear it in the toll of a faraway bell with the last light of day. I dream of its beginning, hallowed and whole, and the invitation means an ending for me of the old ways, the final laying down of what I have held, believing.

For someone who has never not worked around the fullness of religion, it’s seeking, finding, struggling and leaving, the one last sacrifice in this many roomed mansion is it’s undoing.


If I stood on my own, truly alone, would I be aware of the silent contracts I made to be someone for each someone in my circular life? If I were alone, really alone, what parts of me would stay and which would leave, dissolved in the altitude of not having to stay the same for someone, anyone else.

I am familiar with my agreements to belong, the shades of painted grey when my mind was washed in reds, oranges, blues. Colors that didn’t go together, so could not be shown together, it wasn’t the way, it didn’t match, they didn’t go.

I know when I let the very first red burst feather be brushed from my hair I could have said, no, no I meant that there. I know that when my hand reached to catch the blue beaded wish, and stopped, halfway, desperate, that the next time my hand felt heavier, less likely to reach for something too brilliant to hold.

I know that if I were alone, so very alone, I would remember this is why I allowed my selves to spin charcoal, reflected in the fire of all the others dancing wants. Because the dullness of it felt like the smallest price for the togethered warmth of it. The trouble was, the trouble is, I remained cold and forever apologizing.

I alone can be alone, need to be alone, should be alone. Connected, surrounded, loving and sure, I could braid my hair, feet dangling in the rivers of my own old wildness, dressing myself in the colors that don’t go together, don’t match, but blend perfectly for me.

Once, before I knew I couldn’t choose what moved me, I wore bright purple and green runners for school, then after taunts and questions I told my mum I needed something new, something white and quiet. She, even then, was not one to back down to anyones ‘they’; she was a teacher in a sister school and told her class the story about the lone girl trying to hide the colors she didn’t believe she deserved anymore. At a soccer game soon after, one of her students yelled across the field I was playing on, ‘I LIKE YOUR SHOES’, her bold and strident kindness a bell I can still hear. I wore the shoes all year and never again, until now.

The grays chosen for me, by me, reflected me, kept me medicated against the nature of my odd whimsical ways. They were not mine, never mine, and returning them back to who owned them was unnecessary, suddenly blown off by the winds of my standing tall just once against the stainless steel of them. Yelling across the field to anyone who will listen, leaning forward to cheer something on besides the game we are all playing.

When I am alone is the time I truly belong. All of us, collectively, on our own, together, not apologizing.