Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Burntcore Week 9 Entry: The Messenger


Burntcore's Choice: Both

The Messenger

I had always loved hot air balloons. As a young child, I would watch and marvel how they floated so high, so serene. It was like they were God’s messengers, rising up to personally deliver prayers and hopes and dreams. When I became older, I still wanted to see if God’s Grace extended to those balloons, if they brought the occupant closer to Him. Any time there was a fair or exhibition of balloons in the area, I made my parents take me. I wanted to ride in one so badly, but I was scared.

I was scared that being in one would ruin the magic that they’ve had over me my entire life. The balloons seemed to be the one thing good about my life that I did not want to change.

As I grew into my young adulthood, my aloofness kept me from making many friends. Guys would look my way, but I was too shy to look back at them and encourage them with flirtatious behavior.

Until I met him. Byron. He was the geeky version of myself. He was barely taller than I with a mop of mousy brown hair, only slightly lighter than my long brown locks.

I first met him at a hot air balloon exhibition in the state capital. It was a big display, one of the largest in the tri-state area. I convinced my parents that I’d be okay on my own for the two hour drive to the capital.

This was the first time I ever went without my parents. I felt powerful. I felt alone.

I almost stopped halfway there and came back home.

But the pull of the balloons could not be denied and I drove on.

I was walking through the exhibition fields, watching in wonder as the flames from the propane burners slowly inflated the balloons. Every color imaginable was there, in every shape. I preferred the traditional tear-drop shape. After walking awhile, I found the perfect spot to watch the balloons, my colorful messengers to God. I had only been there for about a half hour when Bryon stumbled past me.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay?” I asked, scrambling up to help him off the ground.

He blushed as he brushed himself off. “Yeah, I’m just clumsy.”

“I know the feeling,” I said softly.

I felt suddenly nervous in his presence. When I first saw him walk by, he appeared to be much younger, but as I looked at his face, he seemed to be about my age just on the small side. His messy brown hair did nothing to make him look older.

He jutted his hand out towards me as he blushed again. “I’m Bryon.”

“I’m Heather,” I whispered, shaking his hand briefly.

I sat back down on the ground carefully, making sure to keep my tiered skirt in place and not reveal too much. Bryon joined me and leaned back on his elbows, his blue sweatshirt dragging in the dirt a little.

“They are beautiful, aren’t they?” he said, as we watched the balloons continue to inflate.

“Yes,” I whispered. They were God’s soldiers, preparing for their mission, and I wanted to watch their journey Home.

“Ever been in one?” Bryon asked as he scooted a little closer to me.

I shook my head, not able to speak. I wanted to so very badly. I wanted to touch Heaven. I wanted to see the face of God. But I didn’t feel worthy.

“How come?”

“I.. I’m..” Could I say it?

“What is it, Heather?”

“I’m not worthy,” I whispered as I looked down at my feet, my hair spilling across the sides of my face.

“Yes, you are!” Bryon said emphatically as he sat up and took my hand in his. It was the first time a guy held my hand besides just a handshake. It was startling but felt nice.

“How do you know?” I looked across the exhibition field, joy filling my soul as a few of the balloons started to lift off the ground.

“Because you are. Those balloons are beautiful and majestic and pure. You belong up there with them.”

I shook my head.

“Yes, Heather.”

He jumped up and pulled me up with him.

“Come on!”

He started running, a smile plastered across his face, towards the exhibition grounds. I couldn’t free my hand from his grasp so I kept running with him, his energy rubbing off on me.

“Where are we going?” I yelled.

Byron started laughing as he pulled me along. “You’ll see! It’ll be perfect!”

His laughter was infectious and I found myself giggling as we ran. We ran by balloons of all shapes and sizes. I even saw one that looked like a house.

My lungs started to burn as we ran and I pulled on his hand. “I can’t run anymore, Bryon! Slow down!”

He slowed down and walked beside me as I caught my breath. We had run across almost the full length of the exhibition field. There were only a few balloons left. One caught my eye. The balloon was a simple powder blue with golden yellow on top and white on the bottom. It was almost entirely inflated. A few handlers stood near the balloon, keeping an eye on the tethers and the strength of the propane burners.

“I want to show you something.” Bryon pulled me in front of the blue balloon I was looking at.

He gently stood behind me and placed his hands on my hips. “Beautiful, isn’t she?” he whispered in my ear.

“Yes,” I murmured. This balloon was the most breath-taking of them all. “She’s perfect.”

“She’s my pride and joy. I picked her colors out myself.”

“Yours?” I asked, completely startled. My new friend was the owner of one of these amazing creations.

“Yes, and I’d be honored if you would ride in my balloon.”

I blushed from head to foot. “Are... are you sure, Bryon? I could wreck it.”

“Yes, I’m sure, and you’ll be perfectly safe. I trust you.”

Hope poured through me. This was my chance. I could send my prayers to God myself.

“I.. I... I’d love to,” I whispered, barely able to contain my excitement and my nervousness.

Bryon walked me over to the balloon just as the handlers were righting the basket. The balloon was almost ready to launch. He opened the little wicker door and gestured for me to get in. I whirled around confused when he did not join me.

“This is your journey to make, Heather. I cannot go with you.”

“But... I don’t know how to fly these.”

“Yes, you do. You’ve known since you were a child how.”

His quiet confidence in me was scary but encouraging. No one ever had confidence in me before.

“Are you sure?” I asked in a quiet voice.

“Yes. You’ll do fine.”

Bryon stepped back as the propane burners continued to fire into the balloon. Ever so slowly, I felt myself lift off the ground. I giggled, nervous and excited and scared all at the same time.

“Bryon, I’m doing it!” I cried, as the balloon rose a few feet off the ground. The handles released the teathers holding the balloon to the ground.

“Yes, you are! I told you, you could! Now soar, Heather! Soar on angels wings!”

With hope in my heart, I looked up to the sky. I was finally one of God’s messengers. I continued to rise into the sky with other balloons. I could not stop laughing. My childhood awe and wonder of the balloons bubbled over and over. I kept my prayers close to my heart so I could tell Him as soon as I reached Him.

Several hundred feet in the air, I looked across the landscape and saw Bryon on the top of a steep hill covered with trees. He must’ve run as fast as he could to reach that point in the short time it took me to reach this elevation. He had his hands in the air, cheering, as I rose higher and higher. He was shouting but I couldn’t hear him.

I was on my way to give God my prayers. I was one of His messengers. I was worthy. Now I couldn’t wait to return to earth and see if I was worthy of Bryon.