When You Cling to the Rising


Abby Norman -Cling to the Rising3

Lately I have been obsessed with things that rise: bread, air balloons, my friend who left her abusive marriage, Jesus Christ.

What do all of these have in common? I mean I know they all rise, but why? What is the thing that makes them rise?

It isn’t just scientific study and my kids at a STEM school that make me wonder why these things might rise. My kids are being taught to “notice and wonder,” and I am noticing and wondering right alongside them.

It happened out of nowhere, this conversation I was having. It wasn’t that I hadn’t had the conversation before, it was just that it had really only been with God. God was pressing something on my heart and I was pressing back.

“But how? How are we going to accomplish that, God? How is this going to happen?” It was one of those chicken and egg problems. I needed a space to generate the art to get the funds, but I needed the funds to get the space where I could put the artist. I really needed an artist, but I didn’t have the funds or the space for that either.

I had been dreaming with my pastor about the intersection of art and justice. If God is a creative God who creates all people to create, what does that say about the lack of opportunity for our brothers and sisters who are experiencing homelessness, who do not have access to ways of creation? No laptop for writing, no instruments, no paint and brushes and easels. How can we facilitate all people to create in the image of our creator? These were the questions we were asking, but we hadn’t even begun articulating an answer, when an artist showed up to eat breakfast with us.

What he needs is studio space. I heard it in my heart, and practically behind my head, to the left, if we’re being totally honest. And space was the thing I had, even if it was not yet re-finished and still in need of some basic sweeping out. So I offered, he accepted and all of a sudden I had an artist-in-residence.

The spirit rose that day, quickly enough so the both of us could catch the tail and get lifted just enough off the ground of our “but how’s?” He was being called back into creation, though there seemed to be no way forward for him, either. But we both caught the same rising, and for just a minute we were moved from our places into an existence neither one of us thought possible.

It can be scary up there, with your feet off the ground and your hand clutched simply to a movement of the spirit. It can be terrifying to walk around the local hardware store as you put wood and paint and sanders into your cart wondering if this will ever come to anything. Look down, and there are all the pitfalls you could drop into in a second. You can see the possibility if you just look up. There is just so much that could go wrong, up here hanging onto the spirit rising. Just so many ways we could fall and get bruised by the reality of this world.

What if he never comes back? Without a cellphone or an address, there is no way for me to track him down. What if he doesn’t come when he says he will? What if he just disappears and leaves me with nothing but birch plywood and empty dreams?

What about his “what ifs”? What if I change my mind? What if we decide this thing is too crazy and too risky and it just isn’t going to work for us? What if we don’t like his art? What if we suddenly decide he is too much work, too much effort? What if his big dream is just our pet project we decide to abandon?

We both have a lot to lose up here with our feet in the air, our hand clutched to the rising.

He has fallen farther than I can describe. I’ve been broken after a rising seemed to dissipate into the air. The rising of the spirit is a terrifying thing. But the view from the air is remarkable. There are a whole second set of “what ifs” to think about.

What if this does work? What if this is the start to something really beautiful, and really imaginative, and really only able to be constructed by God? What if the rising lands us in a land so far above our heads we are able to reach and practically touch heaven? What if this rising is our road to the kingdom of God?

I hope I can one day answer those questions. I hope I can tell you just exactly where this thing takes us. I hope the rising will not lead to an untimely falling and failing of the dream. I don’t have those answers yet. I’m only just clinging to the rising of the spirit. But I believe in the rising. I believe in the work that can only be done by God. I can tell you from the view in the air of this rising that it isn’t wise to spend too much time looking down. The pitfalls are terrifying, but the possibilities … the possibilities could only be constructed by a very creative God.