Magic Like the Sky

Magic Like the Sky

Magic, like the Sky

By Jessy Paulson, originally published in Gritty Faith: Above (v19)

When I was a little girl, I used to lay on a grassy knoll in my grandparents’ lawn anxiously waiting for my grandpa to drive back onto the yard after a day of farming. Grandma always promised that his arrival would be a snack break in our day. Root beer and orange push pops were on my mind as I listened for the sound of the tractor on the gravel road.


I would stretch my arms behind me, resting my head on my palms, as I searched the sky for shapes in the clouds. My imagination would run wild as I daydreamed about the view looking down from the clouds as they were swept across the sky and wondered what the fluffy white was truly made of. My mind would drift off in make-believe stories of princesses who lived in towers surrounded by dragons and moats, and people who played at the top of Jack’s beanstalk. To a little prairie girl, these stories seemed almost as believable as the tales of people who lived in big city skyscrapers or those who climbed high in the mountains, for I had never been to the top of either. When your perspective is limited, fairytales and faraway cultures may as well be one and the same.


My childhood was filled with many long lazy days of summer focused on the sky. My sisters and I would often wander off into the meadow, a grassy clearing in my grandma’s grove, where we held picnics of cookies and lemonade. We always kept one eye on the sun’s placement knowing that as it climbed higher, grandma would soon direct us to go back inside before the mosquitos went wild and we got too sunburnt.


In the late afternoon, we could sometimes hear the rumbling of a storm in the distance. Watching the dark clouds roll in was my favorite as I anxiously awaited the sudden shift in the air, feeling the energy change as the temperature dropped. Rabbits and birds scrambled for shelter as lightning cracked in the distance. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi… I’d quietly count waiting for the next big boom, a makeshift time stamp of how long it would be until I was drenched.


Standing in a warm rain was the best feeling as the dusty gravel around me turned into mud, little streams of water forming along every crack rushing down the driveway. But it was always inevitable, the adults would drag me inside where it was safe before I could truly see what the sky was capable of. My mind was left wondering just how strong she could be – just how strong I could be—if allowed to unleash.


I’ll be the first to admit, I grew up in a very sheltered, very loving home. Every precaution was taken to keep us girls safe. We were precious to the adults that raised us. Our parents, our grandparents, and our uncle, all part of our daily lives, absolutely adored us and showered us with love. With five adults raising three little girls, it often seemed as though every action we took was carefully thought out to keep us protected from harm.


My dad has served on the volunteer fire department for decades, which in rural South Dakota means he was also a trained tornado spotter. As the oldest girl, sometimes when I was really lucky, my dad would let me tag along with him to watch the skies. We would sit in his old pickup at the top of the hill, listening to the buzz of radio as other spotters chatted about the shapes of the clouds. There was something magical about sitting on that dark road, overlooking our farm. We were engulfed by the ominous dark sky as it unleashed, cracking lighting in between clouds, rolling thunder in the background, bursts of downpours, followed by light splatters. It was powerful to witness.


Growing up in the safe cocoon of my family was a gift. I always had soft shoulders to land on. I never had to wonder who would help me when I came into a bind. I never doubted if I was loved. I knew with every ounce of my being that I had a home forever no matter where life took me.


Yet the expectations to get along, to go with the flow, to just be content all of the time, often felt like an unreasonable ask, much like demanding a 2-year-old sit quietly through a day of church services. I was born with a restless soul, one that seeks adventure, one that intently fights for what is good and true, one that is filled with curiosity about other cultures, and people, and lifestyles.


I had an itch. I wanted excitement, I wanted to ruffle some feathers. I wanted to be a difference maker, not just to sit on the sidelines with perfectly braided hair in my Sunday best.


I wanted to feel the power that was in the sky, within me. I wanted to have the ability to shift the energy in a room in an instant. I wanted to upend things that were good enough in order to clear space for things that were better than what anyone could ever imagine.


I spent a good portion of my life waiting for permission to be all the things I knew in my heart I was destined for. Simply being good wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be brilliant. I wanted to be magical. I wanted to be fearless. I wanted to be powerful.


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to faraway places that I once questioned the existence of. My mind expands with every new culture and destination I visit as I learn the barriers placed within my life were just the edge of what was known, not an electric fence holding me back.


For years I have studied the sky, both at home and while traveling. It’s always the same big sky, majestic in every corner of the world. Shifting colors from the rose gold dewy dawns, to the bright blues of midday, to the kaleidoscope of colors at sunset, it’s always the same and yet brilliantly different everyday. I’ve spent countless hours looking out car windows, watching the shapes of the clouds morph from wispy fly-aways, into big, poofy cotton balls, into ominous dark shadows. I’ve stood out under the stars, night after night, seeking clues in the beyond.


Through this observation, I now understand there are many elements within the rhythm of the sky that are already within me. I am a quiet resting place for deep conversation on a warm and lazy summer day. I am a sacred place for whispering in the dark under a swirling sky. I am as bright as the sunrise announcing a fresh day and as relaxed as a sunset showing all her brilliance before she drifts away for the night. When I fight the good fight, I am as powerful as a thunderstorm relentlessly unleashing. As I grieve, I am as gentle as a spring shower, letting the tears fall. When I am at peace, I am as still as a moonlight twilight.


I now see, my presence does change the energy of every room I walk into. I have the ability to shift the atmosphere in a minute. It turns out, I do hold the same magic as the sky, and so do you.


Let us not be meek in using the powerful, magical gifts God has bestowed on us. Let us use these gifts fully and completely for His greatest good.


We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)


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