When I was younger I was taught that the highest form of gratitude that I could show to God was praying the rosary.
Something about the devout repetition spoke more to him than knobby knees on old tiled floors and shaking fingertips.
I remember fatigue creeping into my innocent eyes as the priest repeated the prayer of our father in languages that were lost to me.
My mind would wander from past, to present, to future, with the distant echo of his voice reverberating off the hollows of my veins.
Despite the shoving of religion into all of my orifices, and my purity being placed in my vagina by a man that had no idea what it was like to not belong in your own skin, I found God in the spaces where I danced with the devil.
It was the lustful thoughts on wooden pews and swear words that zig zagged across my mind which made me really believe God must be kind if he hadn’t smite me despite these unholy thoughts I brought into his home.
So who was I to judge how closely you rubbed shoulders with the devil?
I myself was not that far removed from him.
It was my arrogance that made me believe that somehow my history in a broken home, and a rickety church could constitute understanding of your being.
I’m sorry that I believed I could be, in fact should be, your altar; worthy of dubious praise.
It took me one hour to realize you would never worship at my feet.
Continuous revelation taught me that divinity cannot be given from one human to another.
It is bestowed upon us in the most inopportune times; wrought with discomfort and growing pains.
I am tired of pretending to be some type of sanctuary for the people I convince myself I’m helping.
How do I guide an individual when I can’t even begin to access my own stairway to heaven?
I guess all I can say is sorry.
Sinners are good at that, saying sorry and repeating the same behavior.
Pretending that intent means anything more than justification for our own selfish agendas.
I am discovering myself as slowly and abruptly as you are discovering who you are, or who you are meant to be.
We are equals on this journey of understanding what it means to live in the light.
So please don’t look down on me from the pedestal I placed you on because I’m merely trying to navigate the oceans of religion, the seas of your heart, the waves of your mind.
Your roots reach much deeper than I was ready for, and my overwatering prevented your ability to blossom.
Maybe that’s why God gave us free will.
Holding things you love too close has never turned out well for anyone.
Our differences act as the catalyst of discovery and the wedge between humanity and empathy; crucifying anything we don’t understand.
Imagine how much kinder the world would be if we began to accept people for who they really are, not what we want them to be, not what we think they should be.
Despite all my years in the church,
I was never shown how to love like the God I was taught to worship.
I had to rub shoulders with the devil to do that.
It is the most humbling experience to sit down with your demons and call a truce,
and to make my world better and honor my God,
I will no longer judge yours.
I swear we used to be something,
Something that mattered much,
You used to be my world,
But now we’re out of touch.
I learn about you through,
Old friends that we both share,
I act like I am happy for you,
I act like I don’t care.
Confusing thing called love,
For us it did not work,
But that does not exempt,
Me from feeling so hurt.
A baby on the way,
With someone that’s not me,
I know we can not be,
But I feel like nothing.
I thought we would stay friends,
I thought we’d stay in touch,
Confusing as it is,
Falling in and out of love.
And so I wish you well,
A door that I must shut,
Goodbye again, goodbye old friend,
Goodbye to our once love.
[Third Place Winner]