I was never one to be able to describe my understanding of God, least of all, I never had that yearning to understand a man behind the pulpit, preaching The Word, and meanwhile, with religion being what it is and creating different forms of righteousness; I never felt a strong association with any religion.
Growing up,I knew a few secrets about the rabbi in my temple, to which I overlooked because after all, he was human, just not a great one. I also overlooked this because the Old Man overlooked this and told me, “He’s human.” The Old Man told me, “No matter how religious someone is they still make mistakes.”
Decades later, I had another interaction with this rabbi. This one did not go as overlooked. Instead, I gave him a glimpse of me. I gave him a glimpse of what he had done—I also explained while I was definitely angry, the only thing keeping that man standing was that my Old Man respected him. All else is anonymous, but still, this is something that draws me away from organized religion.
I once saw a priest try to shout at a man in the subway for being in the way when he needed to get on the car. I suppose the priest believed that his holiness might sav ehim. But in a world of godlessness and below ground during rush hour, and while shouting at a man that had little to lose, except his freedom of course, and even still, this would be nothing because an arrest would lead to “Three hot meals and a cot to sleep on,” I saw something interesting happen. The man was about to introduce himself to the priest a bit more intimately —and I never step in with fights.People get stabbed this way. I did say something and the man on the subway honored me for a second until the priest opened his mouth again.
I reminded the priest, “I have come into this world to give sight to the blind and to take from those who can see. Since it is you who can see; therefore it is you who have sinned,” then I explained that maybe the priest should stop because the man on the subway plays by a different set of rules.
The moment was intense for sure. The man on the subway was still angry and went to say another thing. Loudly, I explained, “My man, I hear ya. But I can’t let this happen. And besides, God is gonna punish him for that.” Then I turned to the priest in a loud growling voice to finalize the altercation, “And you, you shut your fucking mouth.”
Such is life on the 1 train . . .
Over the years I have listened to others interpret the word of the bible and tell about their versions of truth and God. One day, I decided to learn about my own belief system. I realized that we are a flawed species. I think about Mark Twain’s quote, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”
We are all human and all capable of both incredible things and incredible mistakes. No one among us is perfect. No one holds the key to our salvation. In my belief, I hold the key to my salvation. It is up to me to find my purpose. It is up to me to make my peace with God. This does not come from a man in a white collar or from a rabbi or anyone in high rank as a religious official.
I do believe in The Word. And I do believe in God. I also believe that man (and woman) is imperfect; therefore it is within us to sin and it is within us to make mistakes. No one is better than or worse —with the exception of the unfortunates that live with certain handicaps; I believe that unless we do something on a daily basis to improve ourselves, we will decline like a kingdom in despair.
Someone told me that I was wrong about God the other day. He tried to tell me that my way of following was not following at all. Said that I don’t go to church. Said that I don’t honor The Father the way I should and I told the man about the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. I reminded the man about the Pharisee standing at the temple, praying, and offering his 10%. I also explained that along came a tax collector. Instead of praying the same way as the Pharisee and doing like the Pharisee does, the tax collector just beat his chest and said, “Blessed Father, forgive me, a sinner,” and then walked away.
When the Pharisee saw this, he became outraged. The Pharisee explained his righteousness and told how he fasted twice a week.
The Son of Man explained to the Pharisee, “That man before you will go home justified before God. For all men who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I have my talks with God. He knows me very well. God knows me personally. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks. Nor should it. It took a while for me to find my redemption and above all the best lesson I learned is my redemption has nothing to do with someone else’s response