Special thanks to Oscar Cedeño*
It was a subtle theme threaded through the first season of Andor. The word is always said on its own, at once a command and a sign of striving onward. It resonates with viewers for its physical and spiritual parallels to everyday life, and it echoes familiarly in the ears of those touched by Scripture.
“If I climb to the heavens, you are there…” Psalm 139:8 (NRSV)
When Cassian (Diego Luna) desperately tries to get his team’s ship out of the atmosphere of a dangerous planet without getting incinerated and in time for his friend Nemik (Alex Lawther) to get medical aid, “climb” is the sole word with which Nemik urges Cassian on. When the prisoners of Narkina Five finally stage a prison-break, “climb” is the word Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) uses as a command. Both times, the word is stated in defiance of hopeless circumstances. Both times, the word sparks renewed determination and hope.
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in "Andor." © 2022 Disney+. All Rights Reserved.
We often climb in our real lives. When we feel trapped, grounded, sunk, or pinned down – we climb. When our view is blocked, our perspective confined, or our understanding of how things are connected is limited – we climb. When we can’t tell where we are, where we came from, or where we’re going – we climb. When we are fleeing danger, seeking refuge, or in need of a hiding place – we climb. When we are in need of nourishment or materials for shelter – we climb.
In other words, when we are faced with dire circumstances, real troubles, or seemingly hopeless situations, we have an instinct to climb. Following this instinct often results in the discovery of solutions, the resolution of confusion, and the restoration of hope.
Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in "Andor." © 2022 Disney+. All Rights Reserved.
You can probably think of a time when you climbed for one of these reasons or saw someone else doing so. Whether it was stairs or countertops, ladders or towers, trees or mountains, there is something in us humans that wants to ascend in times of trouble.
This physical reality carries over into our spiritual lives, too.
Have you ever noticed how often in Scripture people climb?
“And many peoples will come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.’” - Isaiah 2:3 (NRSV)
Noah’s ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Jacob sees the angels climbing a ladder to heaven. Moses climbs Mount Sinai for the Commandments and Mount Abarim to see the Promised Land. Elijah climbs Mount Horeb to meet the Lord. Habakkuk climbs a watchtower to wait for the Lord’s word. David seeks refuge in the mountain fortresses when hunted by King Saul. Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus with his own two eyes. Jesus brings spiritually hungry people up mountains to pray and learn. Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured while speaking to Moses and Elijah about his Passion on Mount Tabor. Christ was crucified atop Golgotha/Calvary… You can probably think of more!
Each time, they climbed to encounter the One they were longing for.
They reached up. He bent down. And they met.
Physical realities can often put us in touch with spiritual ones.
Zacchaeus climbs to see Jesus.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2 (NRSV)
There are many saints who physically climbed when they wished to reach up to God spiritually. One avid hiker among them, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, was famous for saying, "The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of Christ." He wrote "Verso l'alto," (To the heights!), on the back of a climbing photo of himself and the words became a motto for the Frassati ministry, referring to the pursuit of what is higher and above ourselves in seeking God.
Photo (c) Associazione Pier Giorgio Frassati Rome, Used with permission.
However, even these mountain-climbing saints knew that one does not need to scale cliffs, mountains, or trees to encounter God. Physical climbing may well help to put some people in an interiorly receptive disposition to hear the Lord’s voice, but it isn’t the necessary thing. We don’t all need to physically climb. We can metaphorically climb, to look up. God is already bending down, crouching to meet us, his children, at eye level, waiting for our eyes to meet his.
Raise your eyes to him today. If you can’t do it on your own, let him reach down and gently tilt your chin up. Don’t be afraid to meet his gaze. You will never find a gaze so patient or so real.
Alex Lawther as Karis Nemik in "Andor." © 2022 Disney+. All Rights Reserved.
Andor-inspired prayer challenge:
Read Psalm 121 slowly and reverently. Ask the Holy Spirit to “highlight” a word or phrase for you. What word or phrase really stands out to you, strikes you, or catches your attention? Write that word/phrase down or commit it to memory.
You can either go “up” somewhere (sit at the top of your steps, stand under your tallest tree and look up, go for a hike) or just look up. From that stance, pray with the word or phrase that the Holy Spirit highlighted for you. Think about why it might have caught your attention and ask the Lord what he is seeking to inspire in you with that word today.
Lift your eyes up to him today.
Andor Season One is streaming now on Disney+
*This is part of a special fan-inspired Star Wars series! Star Wars fans from around the world shared via Instagram what inspired them to reflection and prayer from the various Star Wars films and shows so that our Sr Orianne could build some of these inspirations into articles. Our hope is that these articles will invite and inspire many others to prayer as well. We would like to thank all the Star Wars fans who shared with Sr Orianne via Instagram!