George Bowers Sr.: Kites can teach us lessons
I’ve always enjoyed flying kites in the springtime. There’s something very relaxing about watching a thin sheet of paper or plastic climb into the wind and dance playfully in the breeze. Even as an adult, I still have several of these contraptions in my basement awaiting launch.
When I was a teenager, I had a puffer kite that climbed nearly out of sight. The yellow and black striped balloon happened to be the perfect ticket for the particular amount of wind that early spring day. I had tied some pieces of an old bed sheet to the bottom for a tail and I watched as it rose higher and higher over the top of our house, dad’s shop, and Route 11. I had an unusually large spool of string and continued to let it out turn by turn.
As the kite kept climbing, I began to wonder how high it would actually go. There were times when I would lose sight of it against the bright sky and then after a while, I’d find it again. This was an adventurous challenge and I was enjoying it greatly.
And then I lost sight of it altogether and could not find it anywhere. What had happened? I searched and searched but it wasn’t tugging on my string anymore. I noticed that instead of leading vertically upward into the sky, the string was becoming more horizontal. I wound the string in as much as I could but then found that it was draped over the telephone lines. Laying down the spool, I began to follow the string up in the air.
It crossed Route 11 and Headley Road. As I followed it, it too was sometimes difficult to see up in the bright blue, but eventually I traced it over the top of some oak trees near Valley Pike Church. Then it came down to the ground again in a pasture, over fences, on top of small trees, up into larger trees, and so forth. I began to wonder just how high this kite had been. After crossing some streams, hollows, woods, and fields, I eventually came to the end of the string with no kite in sight. I searched and searched the nearby trees and fields, but to no avail.
After several hours of searching, I came to the realization that my new favorite kite, the mighty puffer, was now set free, perhaps making its way to the Chesapeake Bay or beyond. Sadly, I retraced my steps, consoling myself with the fact that I’d had that kite higher than I’d ever dreamed and at least had a story to share with my family (and with you today).
What happened to that kite? God only knows. Perhaps a bird clipped it. Perhaps the string frayed loose in the wind. Perhaps an airplane sheared it off. Perhaps someone else reached it on the ground before I did. Most likely, I suspect that the string became too heavy for the relatively tiny kite to support and eventually pulled it to the ground. As it descended, I suspect the string was severed by a tree branch and that the wind took it upward once again.
As I’ve reflected on that experience over the years, it has reminded me of our ties to this earth. As long as we remain connected to our material possessions, there is a limit to how high we can climb spiritually. In fact, as the weight of our things increases, the greater the likelihood that they will pull us downward to the earth. When we release ourselves in Jesus, however, there is no limit to how far or how high the Holy Spirit can take us. Let us be ever vigilant of how tightly tied we are to our earthly goods, that they may not hinder us from the greater and higher things of God.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.