[Image description: bare trees and my silhouette reflected in an icy, leaf-lined puddle]

“The Word became flesh and lived among us”
always compelled me to stay or return,
whenever I wondered if my religion was still my home.
God with us, among us, example for us,
living wisdom and healing and love
for all.

Unsure if it’s cumulative, years spent watching
abuse excused, hatred glorified, blatant disregard,
or the breaking straw of a man using Christian teaching
to justify taking women’s lives.
Either way, I’m overwhelmed with wondering
why I stay, if I’ll stay, or if I’ll leave once and
for all.

if many my religion elevates to power,
puts in charge, promotes, allows to represent,
are nothing like God-with-us,
how I will reconcile these contradictions, and if I can
at all.

why “acceptable” white women stay, why we do this dance
where we allow ourselves treated as less than men,
and more egregiously, trade sisterhood for proximity to power,
allowing non-white women or
not-assigned-female-at-birth women or
women who would marry women
to be treated like they are barely human
at all.

if by staying I am assenting to, participating in this harm.
Even when I qualify with “not like that” or “not that kind,”
it seems impossible there is not guilt, not responsibility
I must bear for association with
it all.

if I’m always on the outside, trying to make exceptions,
taking issue with everything from the conduct to the canon to the creeds,
at what point am I by-default excluded, already not a part,
clinging to false hope of redemption for
it all.

how long I can live insisting “God is not a man,”
questioning status quo, leaders, and traditions
with my heart in my throat or on my sleeve
and the nagging suspicion its never
in the right place for the establishment
at all.

where this goes and where I’ll end,
if this is another dark night
that transforms and returns me home
or if it’s the abyss between
God is not that religion
God is not
at all.

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