I was born into a very religious family. It had a profound impact on every moment of my childhood. Going door to door on Saturday mornings, bible in hand, preaching to the parents of kids I went to school with while the kids stood behind them making faces at me. Then of course making fun of me at school every single day. Standing up in front of a crowded congregation and giving sermons prepared by me. Being told I could not associate with anyone outside of the religion, yet being told that the ones my age within it’s walls were not good enough as well. My father ruled with an iron fist, my mother complied without question. It wasn’t until one Saturday afternoon in the backroom of that congregation hall that I completely lost all faith. 15 years old and cast out. The only people I had ever known turned their backs on me, as well as my own father. I was told I was a black shadow.
So with this great void in my life, I began a new journey in search of spirituality. I visited the catholic church, the Lutheran, the Baptist, the born agains. All these denominations had one common denomination, though they were all filled with dark souls seeking enlightenment, the weak seeking strength, the terminal life seeking eternal life, and the sorrowful seeking comfort. Non of these institutions actually held any enlightenment, strength, comfort or proof of eternal life. So I changed directions. I figured if I couldn’t get proof of god I would get proof from the other side. This took me on a very dark journey, one I would fight to recover from for many years..
But it wasn’t until my second trek across the states by foot that I would get my answer. It was raining lightly, just enough to dampen my clothes. It was dark out, must have been around three in the morning. I had not seen a car on that highway in two days. I found it better to walk through the night and rest during the day. I was in Texas, hungry and tired and very much alone. I heard a group of dogs yelping in the background. As I walked the noises drew closer I knew I was in danger. I came upon a drainage pipe that ran under the road and figured it would be to my best interest to find shelter inside. I stuffed myself into the pipe just as the dogs approached. It was a tight fit, just enough for me to get inside, with an army bag pulled in between me and the opening. The dogs came at me from both sides. Tearing at the back trying to pull it out, I held on tight. The other side had dogs biting at my alligator boots. I figured that this would be it. They would get the bag away from me and I would die out there in the middle of nowhere. No one knew I was out there, no one knew anything about me then. I could have died and not a single person would have ever given me a second thought.
Then it happened. I really can’t explain it except to say I was spoken to in the form of a realization. Like a touch. I knew right then that I was going to be okay. The dogs stopped, everything was quiet, even the rain stopped. For just a split second. Then the dogs were gone. The rain fell again and I fell asleep. The next morning I crawled out and continued on my journey. I knew I would never again search for faith inside the walls of a church. Faith was with me all along. I knew from that day on that if I kept it close to me, then the dogs could howl all they wanted, they could never reach me.