Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hold tight to the tether...

Oh, I love a parade. Love love love a parade. I remember marching with my little bitty baton in my hometown parade when I was six. I really believed I was a star. I remember the pride with which my frozen little arms twirled and twirled that baton.

Later, I would organize another hometown parade as part of my job. I have the sweetest memories of hours at work each year determining the parade line-up, examining the entrants and praying for good weather.

And when the triplets were born, we began a tradition of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every single year. They were three the first time they really acted interested. Of course, I had built it up all week. Telling my boys all about the huge Spiderman balloon that would fly. Of course, Spidey didn't fly that year. I am not sure we ever learned why but we sat glued to that television waiting and waiting.

Nonetheless, a tradition was born and we never miss the parade. So making our way down 6th Avenue in New York City this year was a treat. Finding our spot through an organization that specializes in making the arts accessible, was a gift. And freezing our little tootsies off....well, that was just a bonus. :)

This week as I sort through the many (many, many) photos I took of the parade (think flip book!), I am struck again by the number of handlers each balloon employs for safety.

An hour before this year's parade, we were uncertain whether or not the balloons would be allowed to fly due to high winds. The authorities decided to let the parade move forward but insisted the balloons fly lower to the ground than usual.

Each balloon is anchored by two vehicles and anywhere between 50-100 handlers each -- with a minimum weight requirement of 125 lbs. per handler. Macy's goes to great lengths to anchor those balloons safely to the parade route.

We were amazed at the choreography of the handlers' movements. Each balloon had a "director" marching backward in front of the balloon and the forward-facing handlers. At the director's indication they moved as one, either letting the tethers longer or reeling them tighter. They walked in-sync with each other and made the balloons travel at a seemingly smooth cadence.

When the superhero that we watched intently for all those years ago turned the corner, we noticed immediately that something was amiss. His arm had a tear, an injury. My boys joked that Lizard might be loose...but what we would later learn was that because the balloons were having to fly so low to the ground, a tree in Central Park actually did the damage to Spiderman right before he made the turn to see us!

But when SpongeBob passed our way, we noticed something unusual with his handlers:

One had fallen behind. She was walking briskly to catch up but the distance was growing.

We felt frustrated for her when the police allowed cars to pass during the parade lull blocking her from crossing the intersection to close the distance between her and SpongeBob.

It probably wasn't an emergency. There were after all somewhere between 49 and 99 other handlers of that balloon. But still, I wondered if her absence left the sea creature a little less anchored to the parade route, a little less secure. I'm thinking yes.

And the mental picture tonight is huge for me. I think one -- or 50 -- of my handlers may have dropped a tether this weekend. 

We returned home from this memory-making trip Tuesday night with the biggest smiles and fullest hearts and we had to hit the ground running. School work had to be done; the house needed to be decorated for Christmas; laundry had to be done; and groceries purchased (ok, I haven't actually done that one yet...but the stress of needing to is quite enough!) to-do list seems unending.

My grumpy started to surface Friday night as we purchased our trees. By Saturday morning I was beginning to crack under the imagined pressure of needing to make every single minute from tree selection to decoration, to cookie-making and present-opening some perfect Norman Rockwell memory, a Pinterest-worthy memory.

Oh mercy.

I took a little break from everyone and just lay across my bed. What in the world happened to me? How could I get so out-of-sorts and beside myself so fast? As I pore over these photos tonight, I am taking a deep breath. Because the answer is so obvious, so right here in front of my face: my tether slipped.

Oh, there are no handlers to blame. I alone dropped the ball on this one.

See, Christmas is a wonderful season and I love love love the tree, the cookie-baking, the lights and ornaments, tinsel and all the other trappings. But at the heart of the season, at the heart of why we celebrate is the ONE who is our real tether, our actual anchor:

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf..." Hebrews 6:19-20 (ESV)

Oh my dear ones, we have so many options of anchors today. We can choose to use Social Media to hold us steady. It won't. We can focus on our football team. It can't. We can expect it of our spouse, our children, our friends. They will fail.

Only Jesus. Only Jesus can serve as the anchor of our soul, as our steadfast hope.

My prayer for you -- and me -- tonight, is that we will find the balance of navigating the joys of the season while staying firmly anchored in Jesus. Isn't it a blessing to know that no amount of turbulent wind can cause him to lose grip on our tether?

Deep deep sigh.


Renee Esparza said...

I love reading your blog posts!! Absolutely wonderful. I'm so jealous y'all went to the parade. We lived in Connecticut for almost 4 years and I never got to go. :( It's a tradition around here too! We must watch every year.

You're so right about keeping our focus on Jesus, during this season. I was just reading a post of one of my facebook friends, who doesn't know Jesus and she is disgusted with the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I am praying for her. Not sure how to tell her about how wonderful the Christmas season can be when your focus is on the true reason for Christmas! His name is Jesus, wonderful counselor, prince of peace.

Love you my sweet Garawaya Girl!
Merry Christmas!