does God hate me? i don't know; my childhood God i'd like to think would love me despite my faults

and we're all too small to talk to God
yes, we're all too smart to talk to God
- behind the sea

i have never believed in God.

maybe when i was little,
young and painfully naive
with my father’s assertions of faith the only ones i heard

i followed because i was a child and there was someone to lead me

but ever since i figured out
that the benevolent, kind god i had thought was the only one out there
was instead cursed to condemn those who didn't follow the rules
i realized i didn't fit into a perceived sinless life
and i would be criticized for my love and identity and family

ever since then every church service i had to go to
was an aching affair that ended with self-hatred and something deeply uncomfortable
and i felt as though every word was a piercing praise to a god
that not only i didn't believe in, but that didn't believe in me

today, a couple of us went with a (rightfully) estranged grandfather
one who doesn't deserve the title
you work for family and you do not get something you left behind
he made his choice and i made mine

and i don't know if i can ever forgive him for his transgressions
but i went to the church for my great-grandmother, not him
she was saved, i admit, by this place
and i have always been the type to repay debts the best i can

so i went.
to a little church, filled with warm wooden beams and unobtrusive gray walls
armchairs to the side and behind
elderly people milling about in the usual creased pants and coral button-downs
and they were friendly enough

but i was raised on my paternal grandparents’ church
harsh and closed
traditional in a sense not beneficial to religion

i was not raised with a God who saw fit to forgive
who taught and guided and encouraged love

chapel was insincere and forced
befit of lessons that do not last
and are not for us to help

this was a church that was pleasant and open
and people sang from the minute we walked in
quiet music in the background

and when it came time
after all the mildly discomforting words and songs and prayers
for the sermon

the reverend stepped up and talked.

he talked of the phrase love your neighbours as yourself
of the bible passage with the man that fell victim to robbers
and the samaritan, a likewise outsider, who helped him

and he spoke of widening our boxes
the worlds of habit we create around ourselves
opening them to others, our neighbours,
and he mentioned the truth and reconciliation council
working to alleviate the hurt caused towards the indigenous peoples of canada 

the reverend also talked about trump, his plans for a wall
how he defies and violates every teaching of god’s love
and does not understand the concept of neighbours,
has failed himself in this transgression of intolerance and sexism
and about the syrian refugees and our duty to welcome them

he said

anyone and everyone who needs your help is your neighbour

and for once in my life
religion taught me something close to my heart
and i felt…


i felt good.

i could learn to love religion if it is like this
have i been missing this all along?
in this way, it is kind and community-based in a way working for peace

i don't know about God.
i don't know the first thing about faith

but maybe-

just maybe.

The End

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