Today, I walked the streets of Berlin.

When I imagined my first time in Berlin. It certainly wasn't thought to be like today. At an intersection or life and faith, the city gleamed with a different light than my mind had anticipated.

A previously devout Christian, and now more of a Gnostic Christian seeking spirituality through Jesus' example, my life and journey has taken me on a journey through the jungle. Familiar with the red lights of Amsterdam, and after years of nude beaches and techno festivals, Good Friday in Berlin somehow hit in a sentimental and solemn way.

As we walked the streets, knowing a night out at Kit Kat is off the table, my husband and I began to speak about what our plans for the future are and if we could begin to visualize the life we will create for ourselves.

When we became pregnant with our son, we knew there would be parts of our life that would go on hold, and perhaps even get lost to the test of time. Surely we can still spark rumors going nude on beaches when we're 50, but the days of MDMA without a care for the world seem to be lost - as our world is now somehow defined by another. I wouldn't say we regret or even are sad about our life (I believe we are more fulfilled in some ways than we ever imagined we could be) but there is a sharp reality that has a bitter taste when you realize some things can never be had again - or at all.

While walking the city, I commented that with a child, I am only losing the ability to do about 15% of things I would have wanted to do before. But I believe it is more like losing 50% of things I could have done. The reality that these extra things are nothing that I would have done anyway gives my logical mind comfort, but the wild free spirit inside of me relents as I realize my new found constraints. And I imagine my husband feels this even more deeply.

I am still writing a piece on how I've learned to love my husband. It has taken time to complete as our love, and our story, is complex. Being in Berlin, a city of few (if any) limits reminds me of what he gave up to be with me. Certainly the benefits outweigh the cost; and yet, as a man, I understand (as much as a woman can) the profound change his life underwent when we agreed to have a child together.

My husband and I met in a bar, in October 2022. Our son was born 10 months later. We are vastly different, some might even say incompatible. We have a different demeanor, different cultures, different values, and different personalities. Diametrically opposed on some important topics, we have noted that had we not gotten pregnant, it is likely that we would not have stayed together.

As our months together increase, I am overcome with waves of appreciation for our differences. For how he sharpens me, deepens me, inspires me, and challenges me.

I am a person who wrestles deeply with my faith and the older I get, the more profoundly I feel called to make meaning of this lifetime. My journey seems to bring me to my roots - not the roots of dogma or organized faith, but of faith as a knowing. My husband seems to see his journey as bringing him further away from the fairy tales of ancient books.

As we walked the streets, slowly enjoying a cocktail and a scene, I asked myself about the story of Christ and the significance of being in a city of extremes on a day marking the death of a Savior. I remember the years when I abstained, and the faith I felt through my suffering or abstinence. There was a guilt somewhere below my skin as I drank a glass of wine, wondering if I have lost sight of my path, and then a follow up question as to whether or not the path I am questioning is not, as my husband might believe, one from a fictional tale.

And then I wondered, does the reason for the desire to know need to be based on truth, or is the question and the path taken reason enough to be valid? I wrestle with remnants of ideals that I'm not even sure are mine; I walk past shops with colorful straps of leather, knowing at moments in my life, that level of self expression freed me from chains of my mind. And then I ask the following, are the chains I've broken simply leading me to a new cage of doom? Or perhaps running to a broader monster.

The unexamined life is not worth living. Desperate to meet the best version of myself on deaths door, my soul is relentless in the questions of actualization and purpose. Truth and faith. Morality and righteousness. I fight for no one, because first I must understand good and evil, else I might pick up arms for the wrong team.

Good Friday in Berlin. The city of sex clubs and damnation, extremes and outcasts. A place so many feel home. The perfect life of a man who changed existence for thousands of years, asking us to examine and choose love. And even this message has been corrupted and used to divide.

As I ask these questions. More internally than aloud, the most intense feeling in my body is love. Love and gratitude for the man holding my hand in the rain. The man who believes religion is a fairy tale, and yet somehow, in his existence, brings me closer to God. The man by my side heals me in his existence, convinces me of my purpose, awakens a love I've never known, and teaches me lessons in his silence that I could write books on.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, is that in my happenstance of being here on this day - when my idea of coming to Berlin had a very different meaning in other epochs of my life - I am somehow finding Christ where you'd least expect Him. As I speak to my husband about how we will keep our wild sides alive, and simultaneously create a healthy and safe life for our child, I am deeply committed to understanding how we can honor our journeys in a responsible and loving way.

It is almost midnight and a deadline for this competition nears. I ask, as I drink my last wine for the evening, Lord, if this life I am meant to find you, please continue to show me the path; I will keep believing it is there if you keep lighting the way.