Dragged from its huge canvas bag, it now stretches long, limp and wrinkled across the grassy field. A massive, dehydrated patchwork worm. The process of resuscitation is precisely procedural and requires a community of hands.
Hands to attach the thin, strong cables – don’t let them tangle!
Hands to hold carefully the umbilical-like crown line – taut, but not too tight!
Hands to pry the cavernous mouth open to swallow fan-forced air – steady and strong; don’t let it close!
Hands to rush deep inside and expertly fasten the top membrane – keep the life-giving air contained!
Hands to trace along the outside folds, gently tugging and persistently unwrinkling – give it room to breathe freely!
Bulging slowly skyward with infused air, it still lays half-crippled, floundering on its side, unable to fully escape gravity’s leaden grip.
Now is the time to exchange ambient air for ignited passion.
Blasts of scorching fire-breath – short, steady, pulsating heat – give the final restorative energy. And then…the balloon rises gracefully to stand tall, so very, very tall. The umbilical cord dangles freely; the many hands now mere flies as they cling, grasp, anchor against the tugging, straining, burgeoning mass. They feel rather than hear its screams for freedom.
It is time. All hands relax and release. All eyes are riveted upwards. One more raspy breath of fire. And then silence. Silence watches while silence soars, a graceful kaleidoscope of colour against an azure-calm evening sky.
Sometimes I think God lets us be part of things just for the sheer pleasure they bring: growing a delicate flower, harvesting succulent berries, scaling lofty mountains, watching playful children…. helping to “crew” a hot air balloon ride.
All is grace. And I am grateful.