Friday, June 24, 2011

Against the Wind

     "Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it" - Winston Churchill

     Quite honestly, I do not know of any other person with quotes as simple, yet profound as Winston Churchill's. All of his quotes are positively genius, but this particular one jumped out to me. 
     You see, I've been experimenting over the last few months with this multi-colored airplane-shaped kite. I think it all started when we received a random knock on our farmhouse door, sometime in that weird transitory season between winter and summer. Most people call it spring. Here in Michigan, we call it mud.
     Anyhow, on the threshold stood a middle aged man wearing muddy snow boots, and carrying a large sheet of photo paper. He explained that his company, Scenic Concepts Inc., had flown a plane all the way from Wisconsin to take aerial photographs of Michigan towns. (I'm tellin' ya, them Wisconsinians are jealous of Michigan.) The fellow, Mr. Barber,  showed us a nice, high quality aerial picture of our ten acre farm before pulling the famous salesman trick and offering it to us for an inordinate amount of dough. We politely declined, but as soon as the door closed, I was determined to get our family some aerial photography of our farm. 
     Thankfully, I don't think it was me who suggested that I send my mother's iPod Nano soaring up into the clouds on a kite. I fear that, had I suggested it, I would have been given one of those, "you're joking right?" looks from my mom, and been told to find something less destructive to do. I think it was my dad who first suggested the idea. Frankly, he has a better reputation of ideas that actually work than I do, and my mom consented to have her yellow iPod flow a hundred-some feet up in the air. My first few tries didn't go so great. Some of it had to do with the position of the camera on the kite, while some of it had to do with my awesome kite flying skills. I had to find the happy medium between letting the kite out too fast -- letting it go with the wind, and keeping a taut line and a tight rein against the intense breezes that come off of Lake Michigan. Let's just say that I'm no Ben Franklin. For the first few times, my kite hardly ever got to the "lightning strike level."
     Then one Saturday afternoon, with a bit of camera placement adjusting and the correct tug against the east wind, the kite and camera took flight. I got ten minutes of beautiful footage, and, (thank goodness), my mom's yellow iPod survived the crash landing. Expensive aerial photography eat your heart out.
     Those windy, frustrating days of flightlessness taught me the same lesson that the double-meaning of Churchill's quote teaches its readers.
    My goal for this blog, like my goal for my kite, is to find (and help my readers find) that perfect tension against the wind; the perfect tension against the wind of worldliness. This is what Churchill was saying in his quote. When we are leaders, not followers, we can rise high. When we make that extra effort to strain against the pressure of culture, we will rise high and produce ten minutes of beautiful aerial footage. Well... maybe not just that. But you get the point.
     In the day-to-day, our struggle against the wind is often really frustrating. Sometimes the wind can seem just too strong to get the kite to fly. But when we master the wind, and not let it take the kite away, we will succeed.
     The name of this blog, "Mustard Roots," isn't quite as randomly silly as it sounds. Although I did want a kind of goofy ring to the name, it means a bit more. As many of my posts will probably take a "farm life" turn, the name incorporates the earthy visuals of roots, and the yellow feel of mustard. The name also has a reference to Jesus' (Yeshua in Hebrew) parable of the mustard tree. 
     "'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'" - Matthew 13:31-32 
     Finally, the name depicts the roots of the kingdom. The roots that stretch all the way down into the foundation of the Hebrew scriptures and the rich soil of the first five books of the Bible.
     The goals for myself, for my readers, and for this blog are all the same. I wish to rise high for the glory of God like the kite and like the mustard tree; keeping the tension against the wind of the world. 
     "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2
     See? Flying kites can be way more metaphysical than you might of thought!

     To end, here's a few still shots from my awesome kite flying experiment: