A hot air balloon sighting in our area is a rarity, so I was delighted a few years ago to see one in close proximity to our home. It was flying lower than others I have seen, and by the time it was above our house, the vessel was within 400 feet from the ground.
My middle school daughter and I decided to follow it in my truck, as it seemed to be searching for a place to set down. About a mile down the road was a large clearing surrounded by a wooded area on three sides. We stopped to watch, and as the balloon neared the ground it hit hard with a thud, and then its momentum dragged the basket across the lea, bouncing it along the way and, at one point, nearly toppled the occupants out completely.
Then I heard a loud â€œwhooooshâ€� and the balloon began to rise, barely missing the tree tops as it ascended back into the air. We followed it into a neighborhood, and then to a public park where it skimmed slightly above the large pond before again ascending towards the sky.
Finally, the pilot successfully landed the aircraft in a lot much smaller than the field in his earlier attempt. He quickly anchored the vessel to the ground with large ropes, and then asked the bystanders for his location so that he could radio his son to come retrieve the balloon.
There were about 15 of us watching with great interest. While he waited for his son to arrive, he offered to take any interested onlookers up in the balloon about 200 feet while still anchored with the ropes. My daughter took advantage of that opportunity. Having seen his earlier attempted landing, however, I opted to be the videographer for her keepsake.
It turned out that the young man and woman on board with him on this excursion were engaged to be married, and this balloon ride was a wedding present from one of their friends. It must have been a friend with strong connections, because each of them was actually allowed to pilot the balloon, and one of them attempted a landing! That explains the near disaster back in the open field!
I thought how this almost married coupleâ€™s balloon ride paralleled the marriage on which they were about to embark. There are high points, low points, and occasional bounces and rough spots along the way. However, when a man and woman give themselves completely and unselfishly to the other, marriage can and should be an absolutely amazing journey!
Unfortunately, we tend to get caught up in busy schedules, careers, debts, and other distractions that force the relationship to take a back seat where it is sometimes ignored, and at other times is a seeming nuisance. The attention and efforts it received during the dating phase becomes crowded out by other concerns, and far too often both man and wife gradually change their quest from pleasing each other to satisfying their own ideals and ambitions, which inevitably leads to conflict
I was not there, but I am quite sure that the people in the balloon were not wildly flapping their arms in the wind to make the aircraft fly. They let the balloon and the wind do what they were meant to do, and the occupants simply enjoyed the ride and the beautiful view. Marriage can be like that when we give ourselves completely to each other.
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.