Those of you who get the newsletter by mail have already read this (or you’re as far behind as I am).

While we were on vacation in Iowa, Ian’s grandma gave him a kite. We’ve enjoyed sharing his experience of watching “Ozzie the Octopus” soaring high in the sky. I don’t know when I last flew a kite, but everyone agrees that this kite flies just about as easily as you can imagine. Especially at the windy top of a Southwest Iowa hill, it seems like it could fly itself.

However, it turns out that the top of that hill isn’t always windy. In late summer, the constant Iowa breeze tends to settle down into gentle puffs. One day we could simply toss the kite into the air, let out the string, and watch “Ozzie” climb into the blue. The next day, I had to start at one end of the yard and sprint to the other end before it rose high enough to catch a flying wind. Even then, we could see the brightly colored “tentacles” flail in the slow-moving air.

In the light wind, I had to put a little more work into keeping the kite up. When a gentle gust would pull on the kite, I had to let the string out ever so slightly. This gave me the leeway, when the wind stopped again, to tighten up the line and give the kite a little lift. That relationship surprised me especially: when the kite started to falter, pulling in the string would actually give the kite some extra stability. When the wind came back, the tension in the string is what turned the sideways force into an upward lift. The downward tug actually kept “Ozzie” from crashing to the ground.

We need both ends of the tension in life: a wind to give us energy and a string to hold us down to the ground. We need interests, hopes, desires, and passions to be our wind. We need supportive communities, meaningful responsibilities, and valued traditions to be our connecting string. And most of all, we need the tension that arises when the wind pulls on our string. Without the tension, we would simply fall to the ground or flutter off into the breeze.

Thank God for the great life-giving tensions that turn our energy and connections into beautiful flight.

In Christ’s peace,