First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on November 4, 2019 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/experience-joy-go-fly-a-kite
“Tension is needed to go to greater heights,” said my friend over dinner.
I had to agree with her. Flying a stunt kite one Sunday taught me this lesson.
Fall is a good time to get cozy and curl up with a hot drink and a good book. But instead of doing that on the weekend, my three brothers and future brother-in-law took a stunt kite to the park.
This kite was hand-sewn by my older brother. He salvaged a tent to create a functional stunt kite fitted with two types of poles. We were all excited to try this out. It was a blustery day, perfect for flying.
Standing in the middle of a soccer field, we unwound the strings and assembled the poles. I watched with wonder as the guys took turns launching the kite in the air. They controlled it by slight movements with their hands. Elbows tucked in with only wrist action. Small, focused moves.
In the first trial launches, little adjustments were necessary. Zap straps kept breaking, as the wind was strong and the poles were heavy. They switched the poles to bamboo, which made a huge difference.
I asked the brother who had built the kite, “Is this like rocket science?”
“Yes, it kind of is.”
We were all so engaged in flying the kite and helping each other to have the best flight. My worries and niggling stress from the week disappeared.
When they had each finished having a turn, they shouted, “Give it a try, Lisa!”
I hesitated. “I won’t be good at it.”
But my youngest brother laughed. He came over to mentor me in flying the very large kite. He went over the movements needed for launching and direction. I listened to him. Nothing like a little dose of sibling competition to boost me up.
With a great gust of wind, I tilted my hands back, pointed my thumbs toward me and it took off. It climbed in the sky. All the guys were clapping and encouraging me. It was exhilarating.
The kite pulled and strained. My mentor yelled, “Hold it tight! Pull back!” I did what he said. The kite went higher, soaring like the seagull that flew by. I dipped it side to side. I laughed as it soared. All my brothers cheered. Especially on my first try. They couldn’t believe how long it was staying up in the air. When I felt the strings go taut, it reminded me of the tension you need to hold with a partner in swing dancing.
Trees surrounded us on the borders of the field. White clouds dotted the sky and my hair was blowing in the wind. I was falling in love with God in nature. I felt connected to the earth and its marvels. The power of the wind. The softness of the grass beneath my feet and the tall waving trees tinged with yellow, red, and orange.
I felt free in the space next to my brothers where sunlight blanketed us as we looked to the sky. Flying a kite is happiness. Making it do stunts is an extra dose of joy. And God means for us to be happy in this life.
St. John XXIII said, “Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.”