As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause. He does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number … See, we have searched this out; it is true. Hear, and know it for yourself. Job 5:8-9, 27 (NRSV)
There’s something about your love.
Constant. Outside my window.
In your eyes, the light hangs over green seas.
Pulls me into tomorrow.
I count the numbers.
You give the rain back.
I wait for safety.
You mourn long enough until I know it for myself:
We’re not supposed to be here.
God, look how the world used to be, I say.
Today was Saturday. And like other Saturdays in Paris, I sit outside Notre Dame Cathedral by the birds writing love letters to no one, pretending Black boys can be loved by this Church full stop.
We would seek God.
And commit our cause. But the dust of a wind catches a tour group by surprise. We look away to notice an outdated duck-lip-selfie made by a person wearing a red beret taking a picture in front of history. We would remember: it’s all cliché and none of us really know swhat to do with our hands; not when we pose for pictures and especially in front of the monuments our mother’s chose to be interlocutors and the full-proof-evidence we’d made it overseas, alive, whole. M/others who told us we better and better smile.
M/others who wait at home fixing the buttons to the coats we purposely left behind because we were going to be a new person in the city of lights we dared to call home.
I would seek God.
The birds bounce their necks for food when I leave to enter the Cathedral. The police take notice of my Black Lives Matter ball-cap but they cannot translate its meaning though it’s formed in the metal of their guns. The Cathedral stands tall and tells me to take it off before I enter. The Virgin Mary greets me next to a Swedish boy whose shirt tells him “Boys can do anything.” I never ask why. Boys-can-do-anything is worn among the sacred who will hesitate to translate “no means no” into Latin. So I light a candle for my mother and look for a Black Madonna while listening to La La Land. I remember some love stories weren’t meant to be and not because white people seemingly figured out jazz, but because we were swept up in the impossibility that a dream can come to pass without flames and ash. Without being buried or stolen like a family member whose only trace will come from the statue of Thomas Jefferson I almost knock over on my way home at night, fixed along the Seine river, touching the lean of a different group of tourists scrolling through their pictures, near a different Tall-Cathedral, with different Slanted Berets and differently awkwardly placed hands …
( It’s another day of sun )
It’s another day the moon comes. It’s another day destruction never comes. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. How the world used to be, I like to think. And will be, I like to hymn.
The Cathedral closes its eyes. The birds return to sleep. The moon tucks me in. I am its river now. I am its pull. I am tent and safe. Constant. I count this grace.
He does great things
I count them before I sleep. Every number adds up to a number never supposed to be. Yet will I refuse to stop counting or writing love letters to no one and to God even though I know it’s too dangerous to tell this world how you really feel. I will search this out and see if it is true. Until I know it for myself. Today is Saturday, I say. I go to sleep.
Spend 5 minutes in silence looking up into the night sky.
Spend 5 minutes reflecting on the moon.
Spend 5 minutes reflecting on verse 27: “See, we have searched this out; it is true. Hear, and know it for yourself.” What do you see in this world, in yourself? What do you hear for yourself? What do you know for yourself?
Victor Andre Greene is a preacher, poet and writer who’s passionate about the intersections of theology, social justice, and the arts. With an MDiv. from Duke Divinity School, Victor is a Pastor at the American Church in Paris and a contributor to Hush Harbor on Medium.com, a digital media platform for Black people having conversations at the intersection of faith, justice and culture. The Cofounder of Sojourners in Paris, Victor is also a lover of ice cream.
This reflection is excerpted from Lent Another Way, a Lenten devotional series produced by The Many, and is produced here by kind permission. Check it out!