Mid-morning on a late spring day. St Bart’s Church. A place of refuge. It is empty. I wander in and sit on a chair. A place to rest. From up ahead, I hear pagan music. I feel home. By the altar, a small group of people are practicing tai chi. I am reconnected with my ancestors, the sound and energy of my people, who honored and lived in harmony with the way, before voluntarily or forcibly giving it all up for organized religion and defined, dogmatic gods. I am aware of the irony of this space and other such spaces – I am sitting in a beautiful church, a monument to life undiluted, unlimited, undefined, whose architecture soars above the limited religious message that some might  choose to leave with, as often was the case in the churches of my childhood. It has been a lifetime since I detested and dreaded being confined to the beautiful architecture of places such as this, places which represented at one time my battle for self-expression with religious forces within family and community. I no more have points to prove, platforms to prop up or demolish – with Christianity or any other organized religion. People do what they do because they don’t know any better or any different. The architecture within St. Bart’s transports me to another time. A mosquito rests on my shirt. A fellow traveler with a trolley bag strolls in and sits down. More visitors. Soon, I leave this beautiful pagan space. A few blocks away, a baby in a carriage tugs at its toes and smiles at me, eyes twinkling. It’s god. Not in a church, but just there, playing with her toes.

© 2013 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.

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