I identify as agnostic. But, I am not without religion. My religion is largely comprised of breathing, sweating, and persevering.
This is a religion measured in miles, commitment, and consistency. Failures and shortcomings are not ignored, but they are not belabored. You examine them, learn what you can, and keep moving forward.
It's a religion that requires extensive travel. One must cover hills, trails, and valleys. Plodding forward for unknown miles in search of salvation is not unusual.
It is a set of beliefs that requires dealing with discomfort. Enduring wind, rain, sleet, and more is required. I'd be lying if I said there was no self-flagellation involved.
It's a meritocracy. Hard work is rewarded. It's not a question of if, but when you will be rewarded. Salvation is earned.
This religion doesn't discriminate. Big and small are welcome. Fast and slow are embraced. Wherever you come from and whatever your past might look like, there is room for you.
Just show up. Just try. Just go one step further than you did last time. That's all I ask from my congregation.
I've invested the better part of a decade trying to convert people. I haven't been able to get everyone to drink the Kool-Aid, but I've managed to convert a few thousand, maybe more.
I don't dwell on those I haven't managed to convert. Those I have managed to convert are often changed forever. Once you've seen the light, there's no going back.
My religion has served as a catalyst for exploring new directions. It's catalyzed new thought. It has opened eyes.
I've seen many from my congregation go further than they ever could have imagined. I've been witness to members of my flock explore parts of themselves they never knew existed. Enlightenment is not unusual.
I've witnessed love. I've witnessed marriage. I've been blessed to see children born from couples who met in some way, shape, or form via my teachings.
I am extraordinarily lucky to have affected as many as I have. But, I'm not done. There are so many more out there who need help. There are so many more who are looking for salvation.
I run because there are countless to convert...