During the early weeks of October, I began working at a Catholic School nestled within the foothills of Malibu. Lustrous greens blanketed the area in the most exquisite scenery that at times my own glimpse of them left me breathless. One particular morning, as the noon sun was inching its way across the open hills, and a few flycatchers were prancing upon Clematis, an intense sense of warmth and happiness came over me. In a way I suppose I felt a significant closeness to what I can only refer to as God.
Now as a lesbian woman sitting in a catholic school, I could not help but feel like a sitting duck for some holy prosecution. Perhaps like many, I have cultivated some anger towards the church when learning that my own love has been deemed wrong by the same institution that project this hostility without any concern for growth, change, or consequence.
Now I have always been very spiritual, however my own search for growth has taken me down a more philosophical road. While on one hand I feel that it is difficult to not seek out some higher being during times of obstacles and moments of triumph, my other hand simply sees religion as a mindless following.
So as I stood there, facing my own doctrine of belief, I couldn’t help but see that the hills represented times of trouble, the colors unison, and the unknowingness of impending natural disaster, trust. I was confident that I had surpassed the mindset of thousands of years, and in return unlocked the mysteries of faith.
However, as I stood before my chapel, I began to feel resentment, for placed in the middle of the gorgeous scenery before me, was a titanium, man-made cross. Was it possible that we as people still needed a large symbol of faith placed right in front of us, when the complexity and synchrony of the earth, lie in perfect proportion? How ironic that such a contraption be embedded in this alter, preventing the continual of life, in its path.
That night the Santa Ana winds spilled into the canyon thus causing a whirlwind of danger. Sparks ignited, and soon Malibu canyon was ignited with tremendous flames. With so much life painted on the hills, the fire fed until the hills were blackened with death. Upon return to the school weeks later, after all the debris was removed, all that could be seen for miles were dirt, ash and one tall, standing, untouched cross.
The perplexity of moments like this can only be explained within each, individual experience, and perhaps never within one’s own spoken word. For spoken word in translation fails to capture the intensity of that exact moment when our own minds cannot comprehend the event without chills crawling up our spine. Nonetheless, my argument about God was burned down, and all that prevailed was ten feet of titanium.
Months later, donations have rebuilt the majority of homes, firefighters have lined the hills with sandbags, and seed has been laid out on the hillsides. Suddenly, it was beginning to be understood, that the hills and cross were interchangeable, that religion was in fact man made, like the cross. The design of the hills, the ocean, and life were formed by some higher being (whether that higher being be creationism, independent design, or evolution), but were nonetheless kept alive by the memories and vision of human existence. We as people are living models of that which can be found within the bible, and subsequently religious books around the world. For the hills will rise again so to speak, but the vision of them always remains in the heart. The cross was not an intrusion of man, but rather a reminder that it is the love, devotion and acceptance of people that lives on through destruction and stands tall.
The symbolism within this event probably seems trivial at best, but the perplexity of the residual lesson within my own heart has become conclusive. Being a lesbian is a difficult cross to bear, when it only leads us to the door of Christianity, but never inside. With the progression of knowledge, and the expansion of consciousness, religion seems rather medieval, when war and politics sit alongside and hierarchy are valued over individual growth and love. Like a mother who tells their son they cannot play with the neighborhood children because they are foreign, rules are instilled based on fear. However, as our own knowledge progresses from a parent like obedience based on unoriginal thought, to an adolescent strive for independence and self proclaimed knowledge, identity is born. It is within this identity that I am hopeful that the trend to reject religion is only proof that the consciousness is indeed “growing up”.
For right here, within the foothills of Malibu, stands a perfect micro model of what makes up the foundation of religion as we know it. Hate can tear apart, superficiality can lead astray, and fire can destroy, but we as people always find a way to come together and rise again. And it doesn’t matter that right now, churches are closing their doors to the GLBT community, because we will continue to expand our minds and hearts until the rest of the world catches up. It is important to remember that churches will continue to exist all over the place, in the foothills of mountain landscape, sunsets over oceans, embraces of loved ones, and reunions of families, all with a cross standing tall somewhere in the horizon.
Roses are red, violets are blue, please leave your comment, after your reading is thru.