The Runaway Balloon

Dear Reader:

Yesterday was just one of those church services where you are glad you were there to experience the warmth and camaraderie of the “old time religion” music and personal storytelling sermon that touched each of our hearts by Michele Jones (who was filling in for our pastor, Jeff Kackley.)

Before the service was over we were clapping and if “Do Lord” had gone one more stanza….it would have been knee slapping. The band Anne plays her fiddle for (The Old Ticker’s Band) provided us with the old, familiar songs that bring back so many childhood memories….songs like “Shall We Gather at the River”  and hymns like “Blessed Assurance.”

I know Presbyterians have been jokingly dubbed “The Frozen Chosen” …but not yesterday. Yesterday was a down-to-earth ‘back to basics’ nostalgic ‘preach-in’ or perhaps song fest.

So as if this wasn’t enough…a balloon I noticed dangling from one of the rafters caught my attention. Before the service started I, idly, wondered what the occasion had been and how just one balloon got left behind. I made a mental note to myself to take a picture of it after church service. (That idea changed about halfway through the service.)

Suddenly the balloon got free and began slowly drifting over the congregation…slowly, slowly, slowly. It only took a few seconds for the congregation to pick up on it and now just about every pair of eyes was following it…where would it land? The situation was getting “curiosier and curiosier.

Closer and closer it crept to the large wooden cross hanging behind the pulpit ….I quickly grabbed my iphone and started following it until….bingo!…it stopped in front of the pulpit with the cross in the background…I pressed down and there was the picture. It was as if the balloon was being drawn to the cross. A celebration of happiness and fun….with God joining in.

One of our youth jumped up to remove the balloon since it would be directly in front of the pulpit blocking Michele from the congregation. I found it funny, however, that a sigh of regret was audibly heard… not just by the children… but the adults too. There is something magical about a balloon that (excuse the cliche)  lifts one’s spirits.

I, then , remembered the short anecdote I published a few months back called “The Balloon”…a lesson in happiness.  I felt that it was worth re-printing today because we can never get enough happiness and joy…as our congregation discovered yesterday with our runaway balloon, finger-snapping happy music, and amazing storytelling by Michele Jones…(it fit the scripture perfectly.) Great metaphor, great job Michele!

“The Balloon”

(Find Happiness)

Once a group of 50 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each attendee one balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.

Sometimes later these delegates were let into that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written on it within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for his/her name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.

At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon. Now each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

The speaker then began, “This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.

Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life…the pursuit of happiness.”


So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

John and Mandy brought Jakie and Eva Cate to visit their Boo Boo yesterday…I got to hear all about their last vacation before school starts.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Runaway Balloon

  1. Carol Seavey says:

    Saw you taking pictures and knew this blog would be every bit as delightful and uplifting as the service was Sunday. Truely, it was. Thank you.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      OH….you are too too kind. I love spontaneous moments and I could just feel it coming with each advancement of the balloon…. apparently there is more to the story than I knew….Ann Graves sent me a story behind the story origin of the balloon this evening which I added to tomorrow’s blog…the fun keeps going with lots of God Winks. Thanks for commenting…you made my day.


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