No.96: I Saw God at a Cookout.


This week I saw God at a cookout.
He looked like a village.
Like a throne room of servants.
Like burnt plantains on a grill
‘cause Paul wasn't paying attention, like Jenga, 
and sermons
preached, not on pulpits, 
but in a kitchen, 
on a porch with dancing, 
from a speaker blasting Afrobeats, 
through a camera lens, 
behind a full driveway--

this week I felt God.
He was a question:
Was your home flooded? 
He was an answer. Then a moment.
Yea, mine too.

He was a rule, He was a taboo, 
He was a place, a warning
that as long as you are in this space, 
you are permitted to be no one else except yourself.

Let me rephrase:
We are all just looking for home,
a light to wrap ourselves in,
a place where hiding isn't necessary,
a place where hiding is offensive.
We are all just looking to land
in someone else's world,
mind, soul,
uncracked, unburned, unraveled.
We are all just looking for something
or someone
to remind us
that we are already whole.

And where better to find that home
than in the presence of disciples
who know what it feels like to be broken,
but still a blueprint to glory? 
Where else can we see the infinite colors of Jesus, 
if not in other people? 

This week, and last week, and the weeks before that, 
on Thursday, on Saturday, on Sunday, 
for too long on New Year's eve, 
but never long enough every other time,
I saw God.
And He looked like you.
And He looked like me.
And He looked like us, like community.

Almost like we were made to reflect His image
in our pain, in our joy, in our shame, in our grief, 
with our boys, 
or on a girl's night indoors with paint, 
or on a warm summer's day
in a backyard with Jerk chicken and a can of Sunkist,
or some jollof rice and fish, even on Memorial Day ‘cause
Nigerians will be Nigerians--

we are the dancing, dramatic image of the Lord.
We are wiser, stronger, brighter together
'cause wherever two or three are gathered in His name, 
there is beauty without stipulation,
there is truth without judgment
and grace without resignation.
Even in the beginning, at the dawn of creation, He said, 
Let “us” make man.

Do you see? Do you hear, do you feel, do you believe? 
A Father, Son, and Spirit doing the dance before time could even tick,
if that is who He is,
and we were made to look like Him,
then when we look in the mirror, 
do we see ourselves only,
or the families that we've been blessed with?

Today I see the image of love. 
To my left and right,
I see the handiwork of an artist who debuted His masterpiece on a cross.
I see a flood of light rising too high for the dark.
I see the image of the Most High, 
I see the thread that connects separate hearts.
I see Heaven, and it looks like a cookout,
like Sunday worship, like a group of people with purpose.
I see a village.
A throne room of servants.
I see a sermon and a song baked into us all.

And it is holy. And it is God.