Rising to New Heights

There are times in life when a little reassurance from above can help improve a difficult situation. I awoke Sunday morning in a somber mood, with several things on my mind. As I looked out the kitchen window, there was something peculiar in the sky. I squinted and kept staring at the flying object, until I realized it was a hot air balloon. What would it be doing way out in the country? How random is that?

Out of instinct, I grabbed my camera and began running, trying to find different perspectives to photograph the unusualness. Predicting which direction the hot air balloon would be, in relation to the farm, was the most difficult part. This is similar to life, sometimes we can see amazing things off in the distance, but we have no idea which direction it could take us, giving us a sense of doubt and uncertainty. The balloon ended up being one road over from my house, and I was determined to get a more-detailed shot. So I jumped in the car and began driving towards the balloon. Yes, I seriously went hot air balloon chasing. Thankfully the balloon never went over 21 miles an hour.

During the short quest, I was taken in a direction that was all too familiar to me, as it flew over the house I grew up in. Just as the Japanese light floating lanterns, as a symbol of letting go of the past, the balloon was taking me on a journey as I watched it float down memory lane. I reflected on my inner child, as memories from my childhood flashed by. All of the excitement allowed me to let go and be silly, as I couldn’t stop smiling, giggling, and occasionally jumping up and down. It forced me to focus on my insecurities that was holding me back, and to realize that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps it isn’t so unusual that the shape of the balloon was an inverted tear drop, as it was God’s way of telling me it’s time to wipe away the tears, believe in myself, and that everything will work out in the end.

Not far down the road was a little white church that was once burnt to the ground, and has since been rebuilt. It was next to this church, up on a hill, that the balloon began to land. So I jumped out of the car, and laid down on the edge of the road, where I was placed in the perfect position to watch the balloon descend. I was so excited that it was hard to hold the anticipation in. Then all of a sudden, I heard the balloon puff, as it took off before it was able to touch the ground. I saw this as a symbol of trials that we experience, how they bring us down, but through determination we can take flight again, and rise above the situation. I also saw it as a symbol of spiritual growth, as it coincidently landed next to a church. This was God’s approach of encouraging me to look at life in a more positive way, and to have more confidence in myself.

Let’s analyze the hot air balloon. Think of the balloon as a representation of you and life’s journey. Your hopes, dreams, and love are located within yourself. Not only are they inflated and help you stay afloat, but they are beautiful and bright, similar to the colors of the balloon’s fabric. The ropes represent the baggage and fears you are carrying within yourself. To take flight and grow, it’s important to believe and be strong. Sometimes we may start descending and not feel as positive, but it’s crucial to look up to the sky and believe in yourself. God will be there to lend a helping hand, and provide the wind to help us rise again. Without the downs in life, we wouldn’t appreciate the beauty of the ups.

The balloon finally landed next to the state road, a few miles away. I had the great privilege of photographing the balloon as the chasers packed it up, and placed it in a trailer. While I was in my “photographer mode,” a lady stood beside me and began taking photos with her phone. She informed me that her cousin used to sew the fabric for hot air balloons, and that one had landed on her family farm years ago. It was as if the balloon was meant to capture our attention. I’m sure the man flying in the balloon had no idea he would touch other people’s lives, especially since he was just out for a morning flight.

Please watch the slideshow below. I narrowed down the 222 photos to the top 25.

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