The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

The Yellow Balloon: A Personal Parable

with one comment

I wrote this almost a year ago, when I was undergoing a major period of spiritual discovery and renewal. It was original published as part of the Great Expectorations update series, both as an article and in the audio podcast series. Here it is in its original form. I plan on publishing a poem version sometime soon. I’m curious if the parallels to Christian surrender are as clear to others as they are to me.


There was once a Yellow Balloon.

There was nothing about it worth noting before it was inflated. It was just a flat, sticky piece of rubber.

One day the balloon was inflated, with helium. It was filled with that heavenly element which caused it to swell and rise – it became instantly an item to be admired, enjoyed: it was pleasing and even valuable. It began rising to the heavens, and got some little way… until it was stopped, tethered to a grubby, ill-mannered boy who would not let go of the string. If the balloon tried floating higher, it was jerked quickly back down, and the boy would insist it was “his balloon.”

The balloon reluctantly decided it was satisfied: it had already been freed once from the astounding worthlessness it once knew, what more could it want? The truth that his beauty was best meant for higher heights faded from his mind all too quickly, and he contented himself with being towed about by the filthy little boy. The boy was his world: it was a small and dirty world, but he told himself he could make the best of it: he must make the best of it.

But gradually the boy’s sweaty, slimy fingers began to dirty the rope: he sometimes handled the rubber of the balloon as well, and got brown fingerprints all over it. The balloon never rose any higher than the string would let it, and he gradually became dirtier and dirtier. His essence as a beautiful yellow balloon never disappeared, but it did become frightfully less apparent. His connection to his tiny, spoiled world, and his dull coating of the earth that covered from his world, masked his inherent qualities, value and purpose.

And then one day the boy grew a little bit older. The beauty of the balloon was well known to him: perhaps better than to anyone else, for the boy still knew what the balloon had looked like when it was new. But now it was wearing old on his fancy, and he decided that the balloon might be a better, more worthwhile balloon if it was seen by other people. He brushed it off, shined it up as best he could, and took it outside to show it off, to see if anyone would notice it.

But no one would: they too had owned balloons, but now none of them held one except the boy. They would glance at him as he walked by, and then go back to their business. The boy waved the balloon about, shouting loudly about its size and colour and magnificence. But it was still tied to a grubby, selfish boy, and people could not notice the balloon without also noticing the repulsive child to which it was tied.

And then the boy looked up and saw the deep blue sky, and billowing white clouds: he saw the golden Sunlight beaming down, and he saw the balloon straining to reach higher. He saw the sky and the Sun and the balloon all of a sudden as one beautiful picture, and the sight caused his grip on the string to loosen.

The balloon shot up into the sky.

The boy was upset for a moment, but then he looked again and saw that the balloon, higher now in the lofts of the sky, made the stunning picture he had just seen even better. He watched the balloon float towards the sun, and realized that as it went higher it became more beautiful, more amazing, more worthy of his attention.

And then he saw something even more magnificent: as the balloon drew even higher towards the fiery orb of the Sun, as it became lost in the glory of the celestial beams, it joined something that the boy had failed to notice when he had been trying to boast about his balloon a few minutes before.

He saw a huge and resplendent cloud, a shimmering swarm, made of many more balloons, hundreds of balloons, of all different colours and sizes and shapes: and they all rose to the sunlight in one giant balloon-shaped cluster, infinitely more awesome and gorgeous and stunning and valuable than any one individual balloon.

Then the boy looked about him, and remembered that all the people he had just tried to impress with his one balloon had all had balloons, and had all likewise let them go.

And, high up in the air, the balloon looked around him. He noticed that some balloons were higher, and some were yet beneath him as they rose to joined the cloud: but they all rose as one towards the glory of Heaven, and as he looked about he realized he could see not only the boy who had been his world, but also the neighborhood where the boy lived, and the river near the town, and the mountains which the river flowed down, and the oceans that the river met at its end. And his world was suddenly so much bigger and cleaner and more beautiful than he had ever imagined it being that he began to grow yet again.

As he flew higher, he began to grow bigger and more wonderful: and the higher he went, the brighter the light of the Sun was through him. The balloons were all swelling and growing brighter and more colourful.

And suddenly, as the entire cloud of balloons reached an amazing, breathtaking height, they all burst.

They had grown so full of light and grown so large and so beautiful that they could no longer remain balloons. Their thin, fragile skin disappeared and was pierced for good and all by the intense and blinding glory of the Sun, and their beauty was absorbed forever in it.

The people down below watched it happen. And the boy did not even remember having the balloon with him before. He would never recollect how the balloon looked in his bedroom, or how it felt to hold the string and look up and see it straining above him. His attention was completely absorbed in the ecstasy and majesty of what he had just seen. After some moments he declared that it was the most amazing and beautiful thing he had ever seen, and ever would see.

And everyone around him nodded in agreement.

The End.

Written by Dave Dueck

January 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Posted in fiction, journal

One Response

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  1. I’ve always liked this! Ever since the first time I read it. 🙂 Every time I see a balloon I think of this story and you. 🙂 So cool!!


    January 22, 2010 at 3:07 am

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