Kent Couch wanted to take a trip, see some sights, get out of town. So he did what most of us would do: he tied 160 helium balloons to his lawn chair and flew 230 miles to Idaho.
He landed in a surprised farmer's field by shooting out balloons with a BB gun, after 10 hours aloft.
"Originally, I wanted to do it because of boyhood dreams. I don't know about girls, but I think most guys look up in the sky and wish they could ride on a cloud.... Things just look different from up there. The best thing is the peace, the serenity." Kent Couch Flies to Idaho
I've always envied hawks and the way they soar on the air currents. In my college days, I dreamed of owning a sailplane and floating on the thermals, silent and unpowered.
Instead, I went for window seats on commercial flights. Way cheaper; definitely not serene, though.
When I was a boy living in a place where there were trees and forests, I used to climb to the tops of tall trees and sway gently in the breeze as I looked out to the horizon. There was something compelling about being able to see far away. Peace and serenity, to use Mr. Couch's words, somehow came from the feeling that I was above the world and its concerns.
Personality comes into play here, of course. I know many people who would find the isolation and boredom of 10 hours suspended from balloons intolerable. It may be the sort of thing that only appeals greatly to introverts, and dreamers.
I read an account recently about an around-the-world sailing race, a many-months-long effort in which the contestants sailed their boats single-handed, with only a radio to stay in touch with home. As one French contestant drew closer to the end, his dread of returning to the boisterous realities of civilization grew. He had come to love the isolation of the vast empty ocean. When the moment arrived to change course for the finish line, he continued on, instead, deciding to remain at sea.
Mr. Couch also spoke of "boyhood dreams." We all have dreams, though perhaps most of them are not as wacky as flying lawn chairs. We don't always take our dreams very seriously. Many are impractical. The commitments we have made to our work and family may prevent us from acting on them. Money, time, and a host of other realities can keep us from pursuing our dreams.
Fear may hamper us. Fear of failure; fear of new experiences. In Mr. Couch's case, there was the fear of plummeting thousands of feet to his death, though he mitigated that possibility by wearing a parachute. In April, Brazilian priest Father Adelir de Carli flew aloft tethered to 1,000 helium party balloons and was not seen again, until his body was found by Brazilian sailors adrift in the ocean.
Dreams don't usually involve death-defying stunts. Single men and women dream of meeting a soul mate, marrying, raising children. We dream of a fulfilling career, a comfortable home, financial security. Once we have achieved some of those goals, our dreams turn to more exotic things. A trip to some special place or perhaps some memorable experience. Perhaps completing something left undone, like finishing a high school or college degree.
I think it can be said that God has dreams. The prophetic writings of the Old Testament suggest that God's dream is a relational one: He looks ahead to a time of reconciliation. He dreams of the possibility that we will return to him. He yearns for the day when we are family again, in all of the very best senses of that troubled word.
In fact, God did something about His dream. In a stunt that is the reverse of Mr. Couch's lawn chair balloon flight, God sent an emissary from heaven to earth in the form of the man, Jesus Christ. The New Testament claims that on the executioner's cross, Christ accomplished the reconciliation that God had been dreaming of.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. 1 Corinthians 5:17-19, NLT (The Apostle Paul writing)
For all of us earth bound souls who have dreamed of riding on a cloud, Kent Couch has showed us that our dreams are not so far-fetched as they might have seemed. Even the most far-fetched dreams can come true.
The Good News of Christianity is that God acted on His dream. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God accomplished what He always dreamed of: the undoing of Eden's sin and the reconciliation of you and me to Himself. There is now, for a limited time, an open door back into God's house through the remarkable Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
You and I are on God's mind. You and I are the objects of His dreams. I think that's even more remarkable than flying through the sky on a lawn chair!
Photo credit: Jeff Barnard, Associated Press