by P. Braithwaite
A few weeks ago I set out to create my faith manifesto because I’ve been putting off articulating my faith (both to myself and others) for a while. I’ve thought about it, the universe has given me quotes and fodder, but today the words poured into my head. They actually kept interrupting me while I tried to read, so I’m letting them out to share with you. Hopefully, in publishing my faith manifesto, I can move forward with my projects, find clarity around my spiritual partnerships, and essentially…stop apologizing for not being Christian anymore. Shit, today I stop apologizing for being myself.
A Manifesto on My Faith & Belief in the World
When I was a kid, there was a song we’d sing in music class, “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love. We are one with the spirit; we are one with the Lord. We are one with the spirit; we are one with the lord. And we pray that all unity will one day be restored…yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love….”
I’m not a Christian anymore because, somewhere along the line, my experience of Christianity seemed to stray from this song. If my experience mirrored the song, I’d probably still be a Christian, but I’m not. Love is my only religion. Unity is my book of choice. My heart beats in synchronicity with The Source, The Universe, a God beyond my understanding…
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…
In the wake of loss, and a bit of loneliness, I have discovered that I am following the path of the spiritual warrior. I am following the path of the mystic. I am following the path of the Shaman. I believe in communing with the unseen, I wave my wand and create beauty from ruin. I am a student of Ganesha, I am prayer partners with Jesus, I picnic with Buddha under the Bodhi tree.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love….
I am typing to catch my breath. I am letting my fingers talk thru me. Today I am transcendent. Today I am free. Today I am unencumbered. From this place, I am certain I can heal the world. Do I need a religion? No. I am embodying the shoes of the mystic today. I am coming out of the closet as a believer in life, a believer in death, a believer in the seasons and cycles of all things. I believed in Santa Claus until I was 12; I am certain that I will believe in fairies and angels until I die. They will greet me when I die – along with my grandmother, Old Dirty Bastard, and Marie Antoinette.
I talk to plants. I hug trees. I hug hammocks and warm mugs. I believe God lives behind the eyes of every living creature. I believe, in another life, cats ran the world. I seek the face of God in everyone I love (and even those I hate). I am a writer – I read my poems to Rumi and Hafiz. They edit my lines, reorder my footsteps – my life is a thesis and they’re perpetual advisors. They wrote love poems to God, I write love poems to lovers: to men on moons who are gone but not forgotten.
I love lovers like they are God, and, today/in this moment, I vindicate myself — this is no longer my crime.
Today I become myself, and unequivocally state that I believe in humanity. I believe in the nature of life. I believe in the unyielding beauty of all that surrounds me – even when it’s dark and I’m scared as fuck. I believe in alchemy, in turning water into wine, and heartache into beauty. I believe that all things rise and fall like breath and heartbeats. I believe in resurrection, reincarnation…recycling…
And they’ll know we are Christian by our love…
I believe in Jesus — both the long haired white dude and the black man with dreads. I believe in miracles, and all courses designed to help us make them. I believe in community and in surrender, in the right to bear souls, and crosses, and arms, and great books.
I believe in my ability to write, to teach, to give, and to share. I believe in public vulnerability.
I believe in peace and in pornography — in the beauty of destruction, the energy of anger, and the power of complete submission.
I believe God is happiest when we worship one another.
I BELIEVE this has taken me so long to write because my kind of faith is scary. It lives everywhere…in every single drop of life…in every mystery of death. I have gone on a witch hunt to find it. I’ve freed the witches, captured my faith, and now I set it free. It lives in crack houses, and prisions, and palours and churches…it lives everywhere I go and places I dare not.
My faith is much stronger than me.
Today, I declare that I believe in myself….and I believe in you, both you that I know and you that I don’t. I place faith in the you that you keep from yourself. I love you with all of my heart (my faith dictates that there there is no other way to love). You are not alone. I am not alone. Today, full of faith…I drop down in adoration and marvel at the center of myself — at the universal center that connects us all.
In the future, when asked by lovers and friends where I place my faith, I will smile and say, “I stow my faith in the spot behind your eyes. In the place where you can clearly see both me and yourself. That’s where my faith resides. That is where God lives, and at my best, that is the place from which I experience the world — the temple in our soul where humanity and God unite.”
Where is your faith today?