Wind is a really powerful thing. We’ve all seen reports of tornados where the wind has destroyed towns and taken lives. Wind, however, isn’t always destructive—often, its power is quite constructive. It turns turbines that produce power and launches kites so that they dance and swoop, entertaining and delighting all who see.
We live next door to an open field. It is maintained by a church, and one of my favorite things about our home. When my boys were toddlers, we walked next door so that they could run as far as their legs could carry them. As they grew to be preschool aged, we decided to try flying kites one windy spring day. It was a disaster. We realized just how challenging it was to wrangle two preschoolers and get a kite up in the air.
As time has gone on, we have grown in our knowledge of kite flying, and learned a few lessons along the way.
Patience is a virtue.
Anyone that has flown a kite knows that you cannot force the kite to take flight. The conditions have to be just right for your outing to be enjoyable and not stressful. The wind conditions have to windy, but not too windy. It can’t be raining, cold, or hot, or the kids just won’t have it. Having patience to find the right day, and allow the wind to gust and take your kite high up in the air is a great reward. For me, patience is something that I am still working on improving, but I will use any opportunity for a teaching moment with my family.
Know when to pivot.
In the words of one of my favorite Friends, Ross Geller, “Pivot!” There are times when the direction you are standing just needs a slight pivot in order for the kite to catch the wind. Such is life, when things aren’t going quite right, all it takes is a little shift in gears, and things may fall in to place.
Quality over quantity.
When we got started flying kites, we purchased the inexpensive plastic ones that you can pick up at any discount store. We all ended up in tears because they never got up in the air, came immediately apart, or we punctured the plastic while we were building it. We discovered a local kite store that had higher quality nylon kites, and it made all the difference. The same goes for most things in life, quality friendships, clothing, and toys are so much more meaningful and long lasting than having large quantities of disposable relationships and possessions.
Sometimes disappointment happens.
While social distancing, we decided to do one of our favorite family activities of flying kites next door. Just as we were getting started, the kite my 7-year-old was using came unhooked from the bridle. Since it was so windy, the kite continued to rise with no line attached to control it. We chased it down, but unfortunately, it landed in the very top of a neighbors tree. The wind continued to whip to around, so it was getting more and more tangled and we had no hope of getting it down in one piece. This experience proved to be a very difficult one to watch as a parent. I desperately wanted to reach the kite, but there was no safe way to get the kite down. My son slowly walked home with his head hung down as he watched his big brother gleefully shout about how high his kite was flying. We were able to turn this disappointing circumstance into an opportunity for my oldest son to have some empathy on his little brother, and we were able to work him through the sadness of feeling helpless.
Joy can come even in difficult times.
In an effort to connect with people we miss and love, I posted on social media about the disappointing experience we had just faced with the lost kite because I was so thankful that we were able to get the experience turned around. The next day we discovered that a friend anonymously dropped off a brand new kite on our porch. My boys were able to see how even in difficult situations, they can experience joy.
Asking for help is a good skill to have.
We have discovered that when flying a kite, it is much easier to have a friend help lift the string to get the kite up in the air. As my boys are getting older and becoming more independent, they are discovering that there are still plenty of times in life that having a helper makes all the difference.
Right now our collective lives are experiencing something like wind—powerful, but potentially with the ability to delight and create. These difficult days have been like a tornado in some lives and a powerfully windy day in others. But perhaps the kites can teach us something about how to submit to the power of the winds. We might end up battered at the end, but there may also be an opportunity for surprising joy. I pray for more of the latter…