old-forest

there is no fire.
the brutal winds of winter
have long massacred the flames
that once allowed their light
to dance against our bruised faces.

our central place,
always adept at holding us together,
restoring worn spirits and
reigniting passion within our bones,
returned to its place
in the earth
where it waits for us to follow.

we move slowly in the forest,
aided by the faint light of the moon
which knows no discretion,
revealing our figures to our prey.

we fight against them
and ourselves,
trying to become more skillful hunters,
more enlightened men.

we dance in the open patches
of our field
and moan in the private spaces
of our tents
longing for fulfillment
and an end.

we gather
with painted faces
and hidden scars,
loud voices
and barren wombs.
we stomp the soil
and beg for it to take us,
to remove us from our apathy.
we love ourselves
and each other
yet kill
when our purposes are no longer served.

it is the way of our kind,
as witnessed by the sun,
as seen in our destitute souls.

From April

From April of last year. The opening words were said by the woman leading the singing at church on a particular Sabbath. I didn’t like what she said.

“We don’t deserve to live!…”

“Thanks for reminding me,” I said out loud. I stood unwillingly, with no intention of singing that hymn again. I hated when they did that. I folded my arms and kept my mouth closed and looked off to the side. Like I needed to be reminded. Like I didn’t know that already. As if there was any way I could forget that.

A miserable wretched sinner, yes I know. I was born evil and have no good in me and deserve a horrid death. And if I don’t deny myself and live completely for Jesus, I surely will die that horrid death. Never mind what I think. Never mind that I was dropped into the middle of a war that has absolutely nothing to do with me. But I have to make a decision anyway. I have to pick a side. Does that even make sense? You mean to tell me I was made so I could die? Love me or die. How on earth can you command someone to love you? And what if I just can’t find it in me to love you wholeheartedly and believe every word say? You kill me? Or leave me to die? Thanks a lot. That surely is unconditional love.

I was thinking this on my way to pick up my brother from daycare. I almost cried. I was thinking this before I went to bed last night. I shook my head and tossed the thought away. I’d been thinking this a lot lately. I’m being forced to do something I want nothing to do with.

On Being A Soldier

The other day a coworker of mine called me a soldier. He said that I work like one, that I always want to follow the rules, but that things don’t always work that way. I understood him. I knew what he meant. I know I’m like that. That’s how I was raised. Obey your elders. Use things for what they were made for. Come back from school the way I sent you there. 

I’ve been thinking about what my coworker said and the fact that he chose to compare my work ethic to that of a soldier. I recall that word being used to describe me before, but it had an entirely different connotation. Before, I was a soldier because I was a child of God. I was a soldier that was constantly battling with the enemy. I was a soldier that was being challenged and tested in order to be made stronger.

I was a soldier who was dying.

***

I find myself talking to God lately. I’m surprised by it. This morning, as I was about to eat a plate of food, I gave thanks for it, and I included the name of Jesus. I was surprised by that too. I shook the thought out of my head and started eating on my way to my laptop where my drama episode was waiting on Viki.

That’s how it happens. I say thanks for things, because I am thankful, and then I pause at the fact that I’m talking to Him, and then I wonder why I’m receiving these things, why He’s giving them to me. Before I left work last night, at my new job at a supermarket, a coworker, on her way out, gave me two coupons for items that were already on sale in the store. I was able to purchase those items for 20% of their usual cost. That sent me over the moon. It was whip cream on top of the sales that I had accidentally encountered two days before. Their timing was perfect. The same way the timing was perfect when I found an apartment, and when I got this new job. I was in disbelief, yet very grateful at the same time. On my way home, in answer to the question of why God was doing these things for me, why He was taking care of me in this way, a voice in my head said that it was because He had seen my suffering. I let that thought go in the wind that was blowing and quickened my pace to the train station. I was still thankful though.

***

This morning on my way to work I wondered whether or not I should text my best friend and tell her about these things. She’s also on a not-so-straight religious journey and I wondered what she would think. Last night before I went to sleep I wondered if I should tell my boyfriend. He has his own set of beliefs, though they’re not unique to him, and I wondered what he would think. I don’t know what I think. Not yet.

I don’t intend to go back to church because of this. I don’t want to go in search of another religion either. I do know that I have never believed in God being nonexistent, so it’s okay to acknowledge and talk to Him. I don’t want to be a soldier though, of any kind. I don’t want to be tested, to be put through fire, to be molded, to be broken, any of that. I don’t want to be rigid and unmovable. I don’t want to fight.

My List of Worries

I’m going to publish a list for the first time and that is because this particular list is very important. It’s all the things that have me worried right now. I’m not sure how long this list will be because I’m usually worried about several things without even knowing it.

  • My current relationship

It’s my first real one and it’s long distance and I’m worried that I might be settling and also that I might mess it up and that my dad won’t like him even though I really do. I mean my mom and sisters already know him and I’ve met his mom, and sister, and one of his brothers, and I think two cousins, and one other relative, but he hasn’t met my dad and that has me worried a little. Also it’s long distance. Enough said.

  • The whole God/religion thing

Well, as you know, I’m not really into my religion anymore and I don’t really plan on going back. The thing is, even at my age, I’m very impressionable and small things make a big impact on me. The other day I somehow stumbled upon this group on Facebook that was all about astronomy and zodiac signs and Egyptian gods and goddesses and black people being kings and queens and these people really freaked me out. So did these twins I follow on Instagram who claim to be followers of Rastafari but who were doing a yoga thing and talking about mythical and Egyptian gods and I just couldn’t for the life of me understand how Rastafari and ancient Egyptian theology went together. And then there’s Jesus…I’m going to stop here now.

  • Race

I’m Black and from the Caribbean and currently residing in America. There’s a lot going on here concerning Black people and White people and the history between those races – a history I’m not familiar with and that I’m not sure I want to become familiar with but that I think is my responsibility to know about. I was wondering today if God brought me here to learn about American Black history and do something big here for Black people – very unlikely I know, but you never know, maybe I might surprise myself and do something on a large scale without intending to. Basically I’m just scared right now and a bit confused and I’m feeling small and like I should know more than I do so that I can do something, but I’m scared of finding out what there is to know because then I might have to do something and I really can’t have my conscience riding me any more than it already is. And how do I, as a Black, Caribbean person, relate to people of other racial, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds who have no idea at all what the people of my race go through? How do I talk about it with them? Should I talk about it with them? I don’t, because I don’t know how. I don’t know how they’ll take it. I don’t think they’ll understand. I think it will just be really uncomfortable and so when I want to talk about these things I have to wait until I’m in the company of Black people, and only Black people, which is also not very comfortable. Again, I’ll stop now.

  • Learning

I want to stay in school – no not really, but I want more than one masters degree. I want to learn and do a lot of things and it really helps if I receive formal education in those things. The thing is I don’t have a great storage room somewhere filled with money that can finance all of this and I don’t particularly like the idea of being buried in loans after I finish all this learning that I want to do… So that’s that. I might not do it because, okay it’s highly likely that I won’t do this because of the lack of finances, which will also inhibit my trip to Europe, and Korea.

Okay the list was not as long as I thought it would be, but it’s a pretty comprehensive list which has very much to do with the very low moods I’ve been experiencing lately. Added to this is the always present I should exercise more and eat healthier thing, take better care of my hair and skin, read more bla bla bla.

So how’s your night going?

Colourful Lies

When I was around the age of sixteen I got into the Bible and the religion and it taught. Things got really serious really quickly and my life took a sharp turn. I was on a path to reformation and righteousness and nothing was going to stop me. I stopped all the things I was doing that my religion told me I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and I started doing all the things it told me I should. This included telling the truth. Not telling the truth really. I didn’t start blabbing my mouth off. I just decided I was going to try my best not to lie.

That became a problem when I came to America the next year. I realised that lying was something I was required to do. I hated that. I didn’t do it. Some things didn’t work out. Like job applications. No one wants to hire someone that isn’t available to work on weekends, particularly on Saturday. You also need to be able to work any time on Friday. I couldn’t do that. Addresses were also something that, under certain circumstances, had to be lied about. I hated that too. It was really bringing me down in my effort to be a righteous, sinless person.

I have a brother now who is three years old and he has a habit of lying. I’m trying to break him out of it, but sometimes, while I’m telling him not to lie, I’m wondering when I’m going to have to change this statement. While I would like him to be an honest person, I know that sometimes he will have to refrain from telling the truth. Lying out-rightly may not always be necessary, but sometimes it’s best not to speak. He’s not old enough to understand that yet, I don’t think, but he will be one day and while teaching him that lying is not a good practise, I will also need to teach him that telling the truth is also not always wise. I’m wondering what his reaction will be to this lesson.

I didn’t like having to learn that holding my tongue was sometimes the best thing to do. I didn’t like having to learn that what I considered truth was not welcomed by everyone. Since the time I was sixteen and now, being twenty-one, I’ve let go of my religion somewhat. My language has loosened and I now wear ear rings and nail polish, but I don’t make a habit of lying. It’s just that sometimes I’ve had to pretend I was someone else, or write a figure that was not so correct when filling out a form. I have to convince myself that I’m not doing something terribly wrong when I commit these acts, but at the times they were performed, they were necessary and urgent. The fact is, I did lie, but I needed to.

Recent Thoughts

I was going, rather let me saying I was thinking about going to church today. I didn’t prepare anything, but I set an alarm to wake me up. I was going to go to a church other than my own. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long while but I still haven’t. The alarm went off this morning. I think I snoozed it first. When it went off again I turned it off and went back to sleep. I didn’t go to church today.

I’ve been feeling like going to church for a while now. It’s like a little nudge telling me to go, or to read the Bible. And I accept the nudge and think Okay I’ll do it, but then I don’t. And I know it’s God, or my church family would tell me it’s God, that is speaking to me, and I wonder at how powerful the mind can be.

I still can’t work on the Sabbath. I got my work schedule for the semester and had to ask for it to be changed because the sun is going to start setting earlier when it gets down to November, and I can’t be working when the sun goes down on a Friday. Why not? I’ve not been going to church, I’ve not been reading the Bible, though I have been talking to God somewhat, I’ve not really been praying. Why can’t I work on Sabbaths? Why can’t I go out on the Sabbath? Why can’t I do my homework on the Sabbath? I haven’t been keeping the Sabbath for such a long time now, but there are still some things that I cannot do. Though my faith (not sure if I ever really had any) has wavered, my conscience is still as strong as before. In my walk away from God, I feel like I can’t go too far ahead in case I make it so that I can never go back.

Yesterday in the bus on my way home from work I was thinking how very firm I was when I had just found my religion. I stuck to the truth I knew. I had good reasons for all the things I did. Well I have reasons for what I’m doing now. Shouldn’t I stand on those? I didn’t just get up and walk out of church for nothing, and I didn’t just leave because of one thing I didn’t like either. Things had been accumulating for a good period of time. I had wanted to leave for over a year before I actually did.

But now I’m wondering if the things that caused me to leave aren’t too small. But obviously not since I left because of them. Or am I too fickle? I mean there are things that I do still believe are true? But that’s my problem though. There are only some things that I can believe in and stand on as true. I can’t accept everything. If I can’t accept everything then I can’t live my life based on it. I can’t place my life on something that isn’t foolproof. That’s it. It’s not whole. It’s not 100% solid. That’s why I left. It didn’t all come together and make sense. And I was not content to sit with my church brethren and ignore all the things that were wrong, while trying to teach other people to do the same.

A Morning Message

I woke up this morning to a message from the sister I had spoken to at church last time. She referred me to a chapter in a book, one that I happen to have read already, and said that she was sure I’d find comfort. She then told me to have a wonderful day.

She was referring me to a book. The brother referred me to a verse in the Bible. The Bible. This only stood out to me because a fellow blogger had written a blog post about how referring atheists to the Bible or some other religious book was not the thing to do in order to convince them that Christianity was valid. Sure I’m not an atheist, and I guess since they know me as a strong Christian they thought it might be okay to refer me to those books, but I had…well like I said, that stood out to me because of the blog post I had read before. (What I wanted to say was that I had read both these books already, but neither of them were strong enough to keep me in the faith.)

The second thing that I noticed was that she said I would find comfort. I didn’t want that. I thought about it before, and I don’t want religion to make me comfortable. I want it because it’s real and it’s true. I don’t want some fake thing that everyone else has that will make me feel good. I can probably take drugs for that. I want something thick and solid that nothing can rip through. That’s what I thought I had, but that wasn’t it. It wasn’t impenetrable, it wasn’t unbeatable. That makes it hard for me to trust it again. I was never looking for comfort from the beginning, only truth.

I never got around to loving God. It was just what I was used to; following orders to avoid punishment, being obedient, listening. It’s how I was raised. Obey your elders. Obey your parents. Obey your teachers. It all came from God. I always heard about Him, how He was the only one to be feared, how He should be feared more than man. He should be feared.

When I was in primary school, children used to say things like God is going to sin you when someone did something wrong. That was our way of saying you just committed a sin, and God is going to punish you for it. Somehow we all knew that. God was going to punish us if we did something wrong.

I don’t think that’s why I started looking for Him. I wasn’t scared, or thinking about being punished for any wrong I had done. I was just lonely and lost. But it turned into that; being scared of getting Him angry, inviting His wrath upon myself. Being scared of not being able to go to heaven. That was the ultimate goal; heaven. We all needed to get here, because this earth was not our home, not in its current state. Jesus needed to come and make it new again so that we could live on it. In the meantime, we had to do all we could so that we could be with Him when that happened. We needed to stay on His side. We needed to do what He said. We needed to love Him. If we did what He said, that meant we love Him.

But that’s not it. I did what He said. But I didn’t love Him. I was just scared. It was all motivated by fear. I lived every day in fear, either of Him, or of having to disagree with people because of my choice to serve Him. I never had the peace or the joy that was promised. I’m not sure if I ever had the hope either. I wanted it. But I don’t think I ever had it. I knew it all in my head. I had all the information. But it never went further than that. Not really.

I remember being frustrated because no matter how much I prayed, or sang, God never took me as His and used me for His purpose. Why couldn’t He use me to do things like other people? And I was greedy too. I was always thankful for small things, but I would forget them easily. I would always want more. Here’s the thing though, I never prayed for big things. I was never that kind of Christian. I don’t think I believed that God would answer. I never liked when our head elder told us to test God. That didn’t make sense, because the Bible told us not to do that. But he told us to put God to the test and ask Him for things and let Him work in our lives. I thought that was too much. I only asked for small things like help on exams or for it not to rain. Or if I got into a jam and I’d start worrying I’d pray at those times; quick breathy, worried prayers, asking God to help the situation and let it not be too bad, to let it work out. He was just…help, that I needed. And a God that I feared. He was big and powerful, and I was supposed to do what He said and not make Him angry. Because if He gets angry, then it’s all over.

I don’t know where I’m going with this but I’ve wanted to say it for a while. I think the type of person I am just worries all the time and…I’ll never have peace. I didn’t have it when I was with God and I don’t have it now. I worry too much, I always want, and I’ve noticed that I’m getting sadder and sadder each time I realize that something isn’t perfect. There is no perfect thing anywhere. And I mean among inanimate objects. Even machines don’t work the way they are supposed to. People have flaws all over. I don’t need to elaborate on that. It’s just everywhere. And I don’t know why I need it so much. I can never be happy if I keep looking for it. I didn’t even find it in God. That was the biggest disappointment of all. I was on a search for a perfect being, and I found imperfections in Him too. The church, the Bible, religion, His people. All flawed. All imperfect. Nothing going to the way it was supposed to. I can’t put my life on something that has flaws, and I’m not interested in hunting down ways to smooth out the obvious flaws that anyone with eyes can see.

I told my pastor once about the things I saw wrong in the Bible. All along I was being told by elders that the Bible never contradicts itself, and that there’s always a verse or passage in there somewhere to explain another one that seems confusing. But that was crap. It did contradict itself. I don’t go around thinking I’m a genius or anything, but I’m not stupid. That was crap. There were contradictions in there. He said that I was going to find a lot of that. I didn’t understand what he was saying. He told me that God was perfect, and had a perfect message for us, but that the messengers were flawed human beings, and because of that there were going to be some errors in the message as it passed from one to the other. But I didn’t understand that either. Why would God allow what He had to say to be twisted, to be misconstrued? That didn’t make sense. He is God. He could have prevented that. Why didn’t He?

This is too much. This is exhausting. So He gave me truth that was misinterpreted, and in that truth commands me to believe the truth that has been altered and that obviously contradicts itself? The truth that is supposed to represent Him. And Christians wonder why there people who don’t trust the Bible. There are reasons for that. They see that something is wrong with it. We are the ones closing our eyes to reason and…oh gosh, blind faith. See I can’t even think about this properly. That always comes up when I think about this. Blindly trusting God. Except He gave me something to look at that I could read and understand and study. Something that needs intelligence. But then I’m supposed to shut that intelligence off and just trust when what’s in front of me doesn’t make sense. I don’t like that. I don’t like that I’m being asked to trust something that doesn’t make logical sense to me. What He should have done was not let me come to America. Then He would have had me for a few more years and maybe by then He could have completely closed my eyes to everything outside of Him.

 

My Stack of Evidence

It was all there; stacked up as evidence. I didn’t listen to secular music, didn’t wear make-up or jewellery. I dressed modestly; owned a couple of long skirts and dresses. I spoke well; didn’t swear, very polite. Friendly. Always did what was asked of me. Never absent from church on a Sabbath.

I’m even a leader in the church. I think I am the youngest one. The head of a ministry.

I have a beautiful voice and I use it for God. The songs that I’ve written are so touching.

Such a lovely girl. And she loves the Lord.

And boy can she preach! I heard her preach a sermon…

An elder even called me holy. I hated that the most.

I got mad at David one time for calling himself holy. There I was reading the Psalms and this man decides he is going to call himself holy with all his dirty laundry hanging for everyone to see. And this is the man God said was after His own heart? What the…what the heck God? Who are You if this guy is after Your own heart? He just called himself holy. What an utter lack of humility. How dare he? I would never do that, not under any circumstances. I would never be so bold as to call myself holy. Sorry but I can’t read this anymore. Straight to the elder with this one. Can’t believe this.

But I guess it was okay for David to do that. He wasn’t being boastful but actually humble; acknowledging his calling from God or something like that. I forget what the elder said.

Okay then David was fine, but what about me? Was I holy? Was I ever going to be holy? I heard a preacher on the radio one time say that holy people don’t believe it when others call them holy. I didn’t believe it when I was called holy. I actually wished it hadn’t happened. It was the farthest thing from the truth. My countenance showed my dislike at being described by that word and the elder just smiled at me in a grandfatherly way. I didn’t think there was anything to smile about at all.

Still, there was the evidence. All that stuff I did that made others think I was this wonderful young lady “on fire for the Lord” or whatever. I did it on purpose too. I was under the very strong impression that I needed to do all those things. No movie theatres. No movies period – unless they were Christian of course, and Netflix was very helpful in providing those. No flashy clothes – no keeping up with any kind of trend. Didn’t like them anyway. I found everything worldly repulsive. I hated living with non-Christians and having to eat something different when unclean meat was being served. I hated being around it all. I hated everything. Actual persons too. That part was wrong. I wasn’t supposed to hate people. I was a murderer according to Jesus. My actual little sister, I love her, but most times I just don’t know. I look at her a lot and ask questions in my head. I used to ask God why He gave her to me. Apparently it’s because I’m strong and I was the one most suitable for the job of taking care of her. Thanks a lot elder. Thanks God. Really.

What do I do about all this evidence though? It all pointed to something that wasn’t true, that didn’t exist. I wasn’t entirely sure that I loved God, that I didn’t just repeat it enough times to get myself to think that I did. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how people could speak so confidently about going to heaven. “We have this hope.” What hope? We could be doing all this stuff and still end up in hell. You never know what’s going on in God’s head.

I was scared everyday. I sinned no matter what. It was so exhausting. I wake up and I have to pray. I’m not even fully awake yet and I have to start talking to God in my head still full of fog. But I have to, because that’s the way you should start your day and it really does affect how you feel throughout the day. But what if I forget? Oh God I forgot. Oh God I’m so sorry. Forgive me please. And then I’m mad at myself for forgetting. And when I get upset I don’t just let it go. It’s worse if I forget to read the Bible or the devotional because where in the day am I going to find any time to read it?? Ugh. And if I don’t find any time at all in the day, I’ve gone a whole day without reading the Bible and I have to force myself to read it before I go to sleep when all I want to do is just sleep. But I have to, so I know I read it at least once for the day. That’s all I need, because you are supposed to read it every day.

Then there’s worrying about how I look to people, and I have to pay attention to that because I’m a Christian and I should look like one. Without me explicitly saying it, everyone around me should be able to tell that I’m a Christian. They should see the glory of Jesus coming off of me (I think). How do I do that?

Oh and don’t complain. A Christian shouldn’t complain. Believe that God is taking care of everything. Everything is where it should be. You are where you are because God placed you there. You are to learn something. God is molding you and fashioning you. Be a light for him. You are blessed.

Oh my gosh I’m tired.

I never got that rest everyone keeps talking about. And I did go to Jesus. I ran after him like a Jamaican after a world record. I ran and caught Him and held on tight. Well I must have held the wrong part of His garment or something. Or maybe I missed Him entirely. I was weary and heavy-laden. I went to Jesus. I was still weary and heavy-laden. And not a soul understood. Not one. I was doing everything I was supposed to, everything they told me to. And they weren’t lying either. It was right there in the Bible. They showed it to me, and I read it and understood. They weren’t lying. It was what I was supposed to do. If you love me keep my commandments. So I kept the commandments. All of them. As much as I could. It was evidence. It was proof. I did all of it. And every single time I messed up I asked for forgiveness. Every single time. So much so that I got sick of it. But I had to. I needed my slate clean. There was to be no sin written beside my name in whatever book it was written in. I needed everything to be gone so that I could go to heaven. It was either that or burn, and burning didn’t sound all that great.

But what was all that evidence for? What did it prove?

Nothing.

Zero.

Zilch.

Nada.

It proved absolutely nothing. So I let it go. And I let myself fall.

I’m listening to secular music right now. I went to the movies the other day (though I didn’t really watch the movie). I’m back to watching Korean dramas, and now I even listen to Korean music too. I bought two pairs of slippers that aren’t really…I don’t know. They’re not bad, but I probably wouldn’t have bought them before. They’re more than necessary. I scolded my sister once for buying slippers like them, and look, now I’ve gone and bought two pairs. Though I haven’t done anything regarding make-up and jewellery, I really want to. Well not really, but I want to. I think about it a lot. It’s not as repulsive to me as it was before. People aren’t either. I’m more sorry for them now. Instead of looking at them as awful, disobedient people who should do better, and obey, I see them as people. Regular people. People who aren’t perfect. But at least they don’t try to cover it up like I did. And that is what I was trying to do – be perfect. Because Jesus said so. Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Not like I ever could, but I tried anyway because Jesus said I needed to. Well great Jesus. Telling me to do something we both know I can never do. But I have to at least try, and try hard, because You said so.

And that’s what my Christian life was like. I did what I was supposed to do. That way I could escape God’s wrath. Oh was I afraid of that wrath.

In the beginning of my fall, and several times since then, I thought I’m going to start over. I’d have to. It wasn’t like I stopped believing in God. I didn’t believe in the scientific creation story at all. It had to be God. And the devil does exist. So…I left it to Him really. I thought in my head that He was going to do something. That eventually I’d end up with Him again. Somehow – I don’t know how – some things would happen that would lead me right back to Him. He is my first husband after all. And I don’t like divorce. He doesn’t either. I guess we’re just separated right now.

But I did it wrong the first time. Somehow I have to start over, all over. And I have to get it right. I’m not really looking forward to it, but I do want it to happen. You know, before it’s too late.

War Casualty

Insubordinate.

I will not serve You
For I am beautiful.

Enter Adam
Enter Eve
Enter me.

Adam
You are wrong.

Eve
You are wrong.

Me?
Well what happened?
Where am I?

“Choose.”

“Choose what?”

“A master.”

“Why?”

“Because you must.”

“What if I don’t
Want to?”

“Well you have
Chosen.”

“Chosen what?”

“A master.”

“What? When?”

“Die!”

“Why?!”