Scribbling Outside the Lines

Playing beyond the boundaries in hopes of finding God and inspiration


Adam Walker CleavelandBeginnings

by Adam Walker Cleaveland

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been aware of many new beginnings. This is an exciting time as Presbyterians Today  launches into a new era with a great group of creative contributors. I’m honored to be a part of this group and excited to see where this goes. I’m also leaving my current call as an associate pastor in 3 weeks and am not sure what my immediate future will look like. I’m quite aware there will be many new beginnings for me as I step out of parish ministry, look for a new call, and imagine how God will use me in the future.

I have also recently begun to identify as an artist. There is a part of me that questions that title, but another new beginning for me is exploring how art can inform my spirituality, theology, and the way I think about the world.

So often, as we approach different endings in our lives, we focus on what we will lose, what will stop, what will die away. As a person who has historically seen the glass as half empty, rather than half full, I know that it’s easier to view endings in that way.

But as I approach endings in my life, I’m encouraged and challenged to view them, rather, as new beginnings. Something new will come. As the church has just celebrated its birth at Pentecost, there is also a sense of new potential and hope for the church.

This image of Mary gazing upon her newborn child Jesus captures the hope and possibility I sense at this time right now. As a parent of a three year old, I can vouch that you lose a lot when you have a newborn child. I don’t have nearly the freedom I once had, and sometimes I don’t recognize my life. But having a baby also brings so many new things into your life: new dreams, new hopes, new questions, new beginnings.

Beginnings (Mary looking at baby Jesus)

Let’s welcome the beginnings and see where they take us.

Adam Walker Cleaveland is a pastor who lives in Chicago. He loves thinking about the future of the church, playing with his three-year-old son and drawing and sketchnoting. Adam blogs at, where he writes about ministry, theology, art, and social media. You can find Adam online at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter at @adamwc.