Yesterday a woman named Ann Weems passed on from this earthly realm. She was not someone I knew personally, however she has influenced the shaping of my thoughts about who God is, and how God loves each of us. She was a peace-seeking, poetic prophectic voice, and profound worship leader who shared her God-given giftedness to this world through her words and poetry. In my mind, the best way to honor someone like Ann, is to continue to share her words that have uplifted me, changed me and challenged me. So I share one of my favorite poems that she wrote, and encourage you to be both uplifted and changed and challenged by this gifted woman of God.
Balloons Belong In The Church by Ann Weems
I took to church one morning a happy four-year-old boy
Holding a bright blue string to which was attached his much-loved orange balloon with pink stripes . . .
Certainly a thing of beauty
And, if not forever, at least a joy for a very important now.
When later he met me at the door,
Clutching blue string, orange and pink bobbing behind him,
He didn’t have to tell me something had gone wrong.
“What’s the matter? ”
He wouldn’t tell me.
“I bet they loved your balloon . . .”
Out it came then, mocking the teacher’s voice:
“We don’t bring balloons to church.”
Then that little four-year-old, his lip a bit trembly, asked:
“Why aren’t balloons allowed in church? I thought God would like balloons.”
I celebrate balloons, parades and chocolate chip cookies.
I celebrate seashells and elephants and lions that roar.
I celebrate roasted marshmallows and chocolate cake and fresh fish.
I celebrate aromas: bread baking, mincemeat, lemons . . .
I celebrate seeing: bright colors, wheat in a field, wild flowers . . .
I celebrate hearing: waves pounding, rain falling, soft voices . . .
I celebrate touching: toes in the sand, a kitten’s fur, another person . . .
I celebrate the sun that shines slap dab in our faces . . .
I celebrate snow falling: the wondrous quiet of snow falling . . .
I celebrate the crashing thunder and the brazen lightning . . .
And I celebrate the green of the world, the life-giving green, the hope-giving green . . .
I celebrate birth: the wonder-the miracle-of that tiny life already asserting its selfhood.
I celebrate children
who laugh out loud
who walk in the mud and dawdle in the puddles
who like to be tickled
who scribble in church
who whisper in loud voices
who sing in louder voices
who run—and laugh when they fall
who cry at the top of their lungs
who cover themselves with Band-aids
who squeeze the toothpaste all over the bathroom
who slurp their soup
who chew cough drops
who ask questions
who give us sticky, paste-covered creations
who want their pictures taken
who don’t use their napkins
who bury their goldfish, sleep with the dog, scream at their best friends
who hug us in a hurry and rush outside without their hats.
I celebrate children who are so busy living they don’t have time for our hang-ups,
And I celebrate adults who are as little children.
I celebrate the person who breaks up the meaningless routines of life,
The person who stops to reflect, to question, to doubt,
the person who isn’t afraid to feel,
the person who refuses to play the game.
I celebrate anger at injustice
I celebrate tears for the mistreated, the hurt, the lonely.
I celebrate the community that cares-the church.
I celebrate the church!
I celebrate the times when we in the church made it,
When we answered a cry,
I celebrate the times when we let God get through to our hiding places,
through our maze of meetings
our pleasant facade–
deep down to our selfhood,
deep down to where we really are.
Call it heart, soul, naked self—
It’s where we hide
deep down away from God
and away from each other.
I celebrate the times with the church is the church,
When we are Christians,
When we are living, loving, contributing.
God’s children-I celebrate that we are called God’s children even when we are in hiding.
I celebrate love-the moments when the you is more important than the I.
I celebrate perfect love-the cross, the Christ,
loving in spite of,
giving without reward.
I celebrate the music within a person that must be heard.
I celebrate life–that we may live more abundantly.
Where did we get the idea that balloons don’t belong in church?
Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and sh-h-h-h
And drab anything will do?
I think it’s blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God’s world.
I think it’s blasphemy not to bring our joy into God’s church.
For God so love the world
That Christ hung there
Loving the unlovable.
What beautiful gift cannot be offered unto the Lord–
Whether it’s a balloon or a song or some joy that sits within you
waiting to have the lid taken off?
The Scriptures say there’s a time to laugh and a time to weep.
It’s not hard to see the reasons for crying in a world where hatred
for others is so manifest;
But it’s also not hard to see the reasons for laughter in a world
where God’s love is so manifest.
Bring your balloons and your butterflies, your bouquets of flowers,
Bring the torches and hold them high!
Dance your dances, paint your feelings, sing your songs, whistle, laugh.
Life is a celebration, an affirmation of God’s love.
Life is distributing more balloons.
For God so loves the world . . .
Surely that’s a cause for joy.
Surely we should celebrate!
Good news! That God should love us that much.
When did we ever get the idea that balloons don’t belong in church?
Thank you for the reminder Ann Weems.