By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) – Magical. Surreal. Unbelievable. Stunning. Astonishing. Dazzling.
These are just some of the words you may hear as you walk about Albuquerque or participate in Albuquerque’s yearly balloon spectacle, The International Balloon Fiesta.
According to the Fiesta’s press release, “The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta celebrates its 41st event with over 500 hot air balloons representing 19 countries.
“The 41st event will occur October 6-14, 2012 at Balloon Fiesta Park, in Albuquerque, NM. The breathtaking mass ascensions featuring two waves of hot air balloons will fill Albuquerque’s morning skies with hundreds of balloons…”
The event began in 1972 as a promotion of a local radio station, KOB-AM. Balloonist ascended from a local shopping mall. Then in 1975 the event became the “Balloon Fiesta,” moving to its current location at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s, new attractions were added such as the Balloon glow (nightly balloon illuminations), Shape Rodeo (balloons of differing shapes lifting off together), and balloon races.This year, National Geographic Magazine named the Balloon Fiesta one of the best Fall events in the United States, stating, “All eyes will be on the skies over New Mexico’s largest city… [When] hot air balloons are expected to lift off in mass ascensions from launch fields spanning the equivalent of 54 football fields.”
According to the website, It’s A Trip, The Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event in the world, stating, “For nine days during the first full week of October, hundreds of colorful balloons float above the city each morning as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains. It’s no wonder this visual feast is said to be the world’s most photographed event.” To say the least, the Fiesta is a feast on the eyes, mind, and heart.
For my part, I did something a little different this year to celebrate the event. On Wednesday, October 10th I decided I would ride my bike along the Rio Grande River to take in the sights. It was a beautiful, peaceful morning along the river. A cool and crisp air greeted me. As the sun rose, so did the balloons, silhouetting the Sandia Mountains. I rode along the river with Cottonwood trees beginning to change colors, fading green, a touch of yellow, and a sparkle of gold. Overhead Canadian geese were in formation, singing to the rising sun. I saw an egret gracefully fly by, taking refuge in a Russian olive tree. It was a wonderful ride.
I happened to be listening to Tom Waits on my iPod. Playing was his 1987 song, Innocent When You Dream. Some of the lyrics read, “It’s such a sad old feeling/ the fields are soft and green/ it’s memories that I’m stealing/ but you’re innocent when you dream/ when you dream/ you’re innocent when you dream.” The song was icing on the cake. Feelings. Fields. Memories. Innocence. All amazing words. A perfect soundtrack for the ride.
Then it made me think: as striking, amazing, and marvelous as moments like these are in life; they are still just a shadow of God’s world to come. N.T Wright in his book, Simply Christian, states, “The world in its present state is out of tune with God’s ultimate intention.” Wow! Think about it: As spectacular as near-perfect moments like a bike ride along nature-seeped river with trees, birds, and water all soaking in the ‘ornaments in the sky’ are, they still fall short of God’s ultimate purpose. To a certain extent, Tom Waits may be correct when he sings, “it’s a sad old feeling.” C.S Lewis writes concerning this “feeling” or “desire,” “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
So as I watched balloons ascend over a valley of grandeur, with nature dancing to its tune, and the world seemingly saying, “all is good,” I had one thought flow through my mind: the best is yet to come.The ride may be “a memory that I’m stealing.” But I believe true innocence is still on its way, though I’ve been privileged to get a peek in moments like the above described. In a way, I’m innocent when I dream about that coming day.
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