Today I took my kite from its box
studied it and slowly fitted together its many parts-bamboo into bamboo-
tiny rings over slender ends of frame- each part just so.
By trial and error-memories half forgotten- piece by piece- a butterfly emerged.
Before it had hung on my wall inviting oohs and aahs of admiration.
Today with string firmly attached I carried it with hopeful, doubtful hands to a windy spot.
Alone I could do nothing.
Helpfully and skillfully my new found friend gave wings to my butterfly.
Up it soared- above my head, above the trees.
Joyfully I watched it fly and knew, deeply knew it was where it belonged.
It was flying!!!!!!!!!
It bobbed and danced and flew.
The dark green against the clear blue sky filled my heart with so sweet, so deep a feeling that I felt a tug as if a string were fastened to my very soul.
As if a kite-long laid aside from play was on a dusty shelf deep within.
My eyes watched that flying shape and my voice rose.
Fly, fly!!! Keep on flying!!!!!! Stay up there free!!!!!!!!!
You’re where you always ought to be!!!!!!!
It flew! And flying stirred a part of me long kept down and long denied.
Fly – Turn loose – soar high – don’t stop!!!
Such unaccustomed wind, such buffeting and dancing, such abandon in the sky brought tiny tears in fabric long lay still. Others bade me caution. “Pull it in.” “Rest it now.” “Keep it whole.”
New knowledge made me say- Fly it on. You hold the string. You send it high.
Oh kite within – find your wind – stir me free – go high.
Attached with an umbilical born of new hope; carry me.
NJP Lively April 19, 1998
Ten years ago I was approaching the day when I could retire after working from January 1962 until July 1998. These were my paid working years but in actuality as the daughter of a restaurant owner, my first unpaid work had started in 1951 when I began my career as a washer of glasses, later promoted to washer of dishes and then waitress. It seemed I had never had any leisure time when I could just be ME. At that time in addition to our jobs, my husband and I were caring in our home for a badly injured Chinese student who had been severely beaten and left for dead by some teenaged boys. One day when he was feeling well enough to do something outdoors, there was a kite flying day at our local college. I got a kite out of a box where I had stored it in the basement after I had taken it down from the wall over my desk in my library. It was a beautiful silk Chinese green butterfly kite which had to be put together carefully part by part fitting all the small pieces of bamboo into the little metal rings. I had used this kite only as a decoration and had never flown it. Once we were on the college hill, I found I was unable to get it in the air but Chang Le knew just how to angle it into the wind and give it ‘wings’. Watching it fly, even as it seemed the strong wind would surely tear it to pieces, gave me the thoughts in the poem above. I had arrived at the place in my life where I could Fly, where I could Turn loose all I had ever held back of my dreams because of so many years spent earning my living. I was ready to let myself Soar High where the wind of the Spirit would blow me secure that the hope anchoring my dreams would keep me just where I needed to be blown. Various meaningful volunteer jobs, much travel and many good days filled the next year and a half. Then an invitation to teach and edit in China allowed me to fulfill a life long dream of living in the land that had fascinated me from childhood. Again I returned to meaningful work in my church and community that I had never had time for before. Then the invitation to volunteer these past 4 years at IBTS came. My time here has been another ‘blowing’ of that Spirit’s wind in my life I am quite sure. Where will I go next? What will the future hold? I can scarcely imagine or wait.