April 11, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Spring inspires memories about kites and threads

Shirley Vogler MeisterLooking back on March, I say “Amen!”

The weather was awful, but I was reminded of times past when, on milder windy days, parents helped children make the first kites of the season.

It was awesome to watch the kites floating over fields or park areas. Families delighted in this, with youngsters laughing happily—or crying because some kites crashed. From March through better weather months, kites were popular.

I remember this because in January my sister, Beverley, sent me her St. Luke Parish bulletin from Belleville, Ill., which included this (shortened) story:

“A boy and his father make a kite. They spend hours gluing together the pinewood slats, fitting the delicate paper onto the frame and fashioning the tail.

“On the first windy March afternoon, they set out to launch their wood and paper spaceship. Dad instructs his son on how to hold the string tight and run as fast as he can when Dad lets go.

“After a few false starts and frustrated launches, the kite is finally airborne. The boy is in control as Dad shows him how to let out the string, little by little. The kite flies higher and higher.

“Then to his father’s surprise, the boy lets go of the string. With sheer joy and delight, the boy watches the kite soar until it is only a dancing speck in the distance.

“Walking home together, the father realized that he will soon have to loosen the tie that binds him to his son, to let the boy make his own place in the world, … and Dad wonders: ‘Will I release the string as unselfishly as that?’ ”

This story was adapted from the January 2008 issue of Connections and the Oct. 20, 2007, issue of Christian Century. It reminded me of a poem, “Threads of Hope,” that I wrote for the 20th anniversary of The Julian Center in Indianapolis. I share those 20 lines in prose form.

“We are the threads that bind us, one to another. We strengthen our babies’ swaddling beginnings, then loosen the ties so they can wiggle in the wind like spring kites soaring to new heights, finding themselves. We are harmonious, sturdy threads carefully woven into the fiber of society, where weak fabric frays. Some souls fall through the holes into despair and confusion and suffering. We who are strong gather together to tighten the knots and knit a net of safety to catch those falling—a shawl of comfort to dry their tears and wrap their fears in courage. We teach them to make their own shawls, to become the threads that bind us, one to another—with trust, with love.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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