Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Skin

One of my largest struggles within St. Vincent over the past year has been the Christianity-infused culture. My first three months here I attended many church services and just could never seem to buy into it. I looked around me and saw so many children without fathers, so many women with unnecessary bruises and so many men with alcohol permanently staining their breath.

I heard countless anti-gay comments naming God as their source. The same men I saw ostracizing other men they considered feminine in the name of their God, were with a different woman every weekend while their wife stayed at home with the kids. I have always believed in God, but I couldn't seem to find God here.

The hypocrisy of the whole ordeal created such a disdain in my heart that I couldn't see passed my own judgement to understand their's.

It wasn't until I woke up to the screeching tires of a vehicle crashing into my house that I realized where I was wrong about religion. At least religion here.

I woke up at 6:45 in the morning to a van wrapped around the pole in my yard. The village was silent except for the eerie moans of the van driver, who was the only one left in the van. When I stepped outside my house to see if I could help, I was directed to a man who had been hit on the road. His legs were mangled and he was propped up on the wall next to my house. His body had gone into shock and all he could feel were the ants biting his feet. As I sat next to him, wiping off the dozens of ants that just kept reappearing, all I could do was pray. I didn't ask God what to do. I didn't ask God to change things. I just asked God to help me and those around me get through this.

Maybe Vincentians have got it right all along. Intrinsically, we as people know the difference from right and wrong. We don't need the Ten Commandments for that. And religion cannot change what happened or what will happen. But religion can get you through things. And although I will probably never attend any more church services here, it is comforting to know that each night me and thousands of other Vincentians ask God to help us get through the next day together. And maybe that's all religion needs to be.

'I don't even know what I was running for - I guess I just felt like it'--Holden Claufield, Catcher in the Rye