It was one of the first really nice afternoons we’d had that spring: sunny and warm, but with a brisk breeze coming off the Maine coastline where we were living at time. It was the kind of day that lends itself to just about every possibility, that is, except for work! So like the two kids that we are, on this particular afternoon my son Jake (who was about six or seven at the time) and I seized the opportunity to steal away to the beach for a couple of hours… to fly his kite.
Speaking as one who has seen a few good kite flying days in his time, let me tell you that this was one of the great ones. No sooner than our toes had hit the sand, we found wind strong enough to easily carry Jake’s kite high over the ocean, using up every yard of kite string we had in the process; and even then, it tugged hard at our arms for even more. This particular kite, as I recall, was shaped as kind of a cross between a shark and a huge black raven, so it was quite an imposing sight to behold up there over the ocean. It seemed to us as though this kite could fly there forever.
But, of course, it didn’t. Without warning, the wind began to die, and the kite took a quick nosedive toward the water. We tried all the tricks we knew to keep it aloft, but to no avail. Nearly as quickly as it had risen to the skies, the kite crashed into the surf and disappeared under the waves. That was it, so we did the only thing we could do: we started to reel in the string, hoping that the kite hadn’t been too damaged in the fall.
Truthfully, I didn’t hold much hope for the kite’s survival. The surf that day was pretty intense, and besides, as we slowly pulled up string we were also yanking up seaweed and grass from the bottom of the ocean, which was not a good sign. When the kite finally did emerge from the water, it wet, sandy and tangled up – I couldn’t quite tell, but from a distance, it even looked as though one of the stays had broken. There was no way this kite was going to fly again; all that was left to do now was go survey the damage.
But then an amazing thing happened. The wind picked up again, and caught the kite, its raven’s wings popping to life like a sail billowing out, and up it went again. It wasn’t broken after all! And without any effort on our parts, that kite flew as high and strong as it had before; drying in the warmth of the sun and on the rush of the wind. I know; it was just a kite, simply a kid’s toy. But in its own way, it was a surprising, mysterious, glorious sight; one that neither Jake or I have ever forgotten.
“The wind blows where it chooses,” Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) This is how God comes to us, isn’t it? As the saying goes, “in mysterious ways,” yes; but moreover from directions we least expect and with a power that amazes us in its scope and intensity! So often we find ourselves pulled into the tide of life’s uncertainties and tragedies, and we are torn asunder by things we cannot control: illness, grief, the injustices of a world that is wholly unfair in its dealings. We get hurt and broken, and in the aftermath we wonder if we can ever possibly fly again. But these are the moments that in some incredible and mysterious way God comes to us, carrying us up out of the turmoil in which we’re caught, untangling our confusion and drying our tears; so that once again we can fly free with a sense of wholeness and a renewed hope and joy for living.
Here in New Hampshire, spring is earnestly, if slowly, coming to pass; and though we’re a few miles from the ocean it seems wholly appropriate for us all to consider how God’s own Spirit moves amidst the changing tide and tumult of our daily lives! It’s always good for us to remember that in whatever happens today and through all the challenges we face, there’s a breeze in the air that is seeking to blow in and through our souls. If we can only open ourselves to the gentle rush of that breeze, who knows? Maybe this will be the day we truly fly free and strong.
I hope and pray that this will be that day for you.