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    by Susan McGrath

Balloons
Date Posted: May 20, 2006

My son loves balloons. Every time we go through Wal-Mart or visit a carnival or or special event where balloons are sold, my son begs for one.

Why do kids love balloons? Is is because balloons are free-spirited and unpredictable? Because they are higher than we are (and kids always want to be up higher)? Perhaps it's their resilience. Balloons can be batted around and knocked down and still remain buoyant. I guess kids see balloons as good playmates because they share many of the same qualities.

As a child, one of my favorite movies was The Red Balloon. We used to watch it on movie day at school. It was released on video a few years ago and I bought it for my kids, but I don't think they see the same magic I did.

The movie is about a boy who is bullied by other kids at school. He makes "friends" with a red balloon and it seems to bring him a measure of joy and freedom. (There is really no dialog in the entire movie, which always made me use my imagination as to what was really happening.) The bullies eventually corner him and pop the balloon. Then something magical happens, other balloons come from every direction and he gathers them up and floats away. The balloon was his friend and comfort, and, eventually, his salvation.

I remember reading accounts from the 1980s of balloons being used to carry the gospel message across the iron curtain. Pages of the bible were tied to balloons and released. There were several testimonies from those who had found the pages and come to know the Lord. The balloons truly represented their salvation.

In The Wizard of Oz the hot air balloon was supposed to be Dorothy's ticket home, but instead, only the wizard floats away in it. I equate hot air balloons with relaxation and tranquility. I've never flown in one, but someday I hope to.

Balloons have a lot in common with the "good news": they bring joy, represent freedom, and they frame things in a different perspective (that of a child or that of a bird).

This summer, as my son begs for a balloon at every fair and festival, I will think of those representations and buy him one. Perhaps I'll even buy one for myself.

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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