20 years I've been looking over the same hill, watching the same sunrise over the Platt river. Many people choose to see it in bits and pieces in the theme park that overlooks some of the trails while they're riding the rides they seem to enjoy so much. Me, I've never been a thrill seeker. I don't go on those rides and have never been inside of the park. For me the $35 it takes to get in the first time isn't worth me just walking around and looking at food stalls selling everything that's overpriced that no one really wants to buy but do because the park doesn't let outside food in. I don't make as many friends as I could because I don't go inside the park, don't mingle with what my mother likes to call "normal teenagers".
I haven't been what my mother considers a normal child for a long time now. My pagan grandmother had given me her religion long ago and my mother has never liked it since to her my grandmother was always a heathen. Ever since my mother was old enough to choose her religion for herself she went to Christianity and hated anyone and everyone who wasn't also Christian. She believed that she hadn't exposed me to my grandmother I would still be that way and would never know of my grandmothers kind of people, would never know there was anything but a 1 god system.
This I wouldn't believe for a minute. I'd met plenty of other pagans and wiccans who believed similar things to me long before I bought and started wearing my first pentagram. I don't think I would ever kept it no matter what religion my mother wanted me to be, no matter what monotheistic religion. For me thinking a singular deity ran the entire universe was too much for me. It was beyond what my mind even wanted to comprehend despite it being so easy for others. My set of several Gods and Goddesses fit me better and gave me my balance in the universe. It showed me a peace that I didn't see even in most Christians, ones that claimed the path of which they followed was the best one and what I was doing was one of the worst sins anyone could commit. They've tried to convert me many times but they can't even drag me into a church anymore.
I've long since outgrown their claims that their churches would heal my heathen soul. I spent as many hours in a church as a kid as they did then and do now and I still went to paganism as my refuge. I saw so much pain within the church as the poorest members were starving to death while the pastors, who demanded so much in donations each week, got fatter and fatter. They seemed to have no interest in actually helping the people that have listened to them so many hours each week and gave the church every penny that it earned instead of making them work for it. Even now that I'm homeless I never hear of anyone's church offering me help to feed myself in exchange for converting. They had no space for me and no sympathy for my condition. They would rather watch me starve many nights in a row instead of even offering a single meal, often claiming it was my punishment for the sins of not believing in their God.
The only time I've ever gotten any sympathy from someone in the Christian church was from an old monk who had joined when he was 18, well into his 80's when I had met him. I was offered 3 hot meals in exchange for helping him clean the building him and the other monks currently live in. I willingly did it since he was the only one to clean so the other monks could do their devotions, plus it was common among that clan for the oldest to clean everything anyway. I'm not sure how they came to this conclusion I'm not sure. This poor man seemed way to frail to be able to clean such a large building on his own and it's very hard for them to hire someone to clean it for them since they barely had enough money donated to them to keep them alive. I cleaned as quickly as I could and spoke religion with the man with no judgment passed on my own personal beliefs, something that's been so rare to me over the years of seeing Christians on the streets.
I even had the chance to show him the pentagram that I had kept so close to me for all these years. Sure, it was one of the cheep stainless steel models many teens used to rebel against their parents and their sense of what a real religion was but it was important to me because it was the only one I ever owned. It wasn't something I saw myself replacing in the future and even if I could it wouldn't be easy. I didn't really want money; I liked not having that as a constraint. I just liked living freely and getting what little I could to keep myself alive. I didn't even pay for my own food. I usually held up a sign that said "just want food thx" in front of a store and often enough some older woman that saw me there would bring me a sandwich or something made within the store to feed myself. I tried not to do this more than once a day so people wouldn't see me eat something and then keep waiting. I honestly wasn't that starving.
Not to mention, the one time I did get to visit New York City, I'd seen more than one overweight person do just that. It was something I promised myself I would never do no matter how poor I ever came to be. It wasn't worth it to try to gorge myself on whatever I could get in an effort to gain enough weight that I might be able to starve through the apocalypse and still be okay. It wasn't a good way to live by anyone's standards. I met someone like me on the streets once, didn't eat much knowing she would have to beg for it. She'd been very overweight once and had lost the weight once she didn't have the option of eating whenever she felt like it. She said she felt healthier though she hated that homelessness is what had to get her to realize what loosing weight could do for her.
She had things a little worse off, though. Where I was kicked out at 18 for the belief system that I adored so much she had spent years in chronic abuse. Her husband had been raised to think this was okay and eventually he conned her into thinking it was okay, too. She didn't debate this for the longest time, she didn't feel she needed to. She had what she considered a nice home where everything she could ever want was paid for, great medical insurance through her husbands company, a garden in which she could plant whatever she wanted and was allowed to bring as much or as little of it into the house as she wanted. She also had what she wanted the most: an alter that even he wouldn't touch, even if it was out of fear.
By the time she was ready to leave him even she wasn't willing to stay even for the alter. It had lost all of the allure that it once had for her. She didn't care if spells wouldn't be a part of her religious practice for a long time but she didn't care. She knew, as I did, that it wasn't essential to what she wanted to do for the Gods and Goddesses she loves so much. They didn't care if she did any spell work as long as she acknowledged them and did her nightly worship. This is what mattered to her now, nothing else. She loved what she practiced as much as I do and I believe that she will always practice, even as we both stay here on the streets.