Noodling

Blocks and Kites

A long time ago, I played with blocks, every block neatly stacked on the tier below, alternating right angles for stability. I’m sure someone must have taught me, probably my parents. As I made my tower taller, I experimented with breadth, but a tower is a vertical column, or it is nothing. Later, I began to toy with its base. I’d remove a block and watch my tower sway. I’d pry at a brick and know that if I persisted the tower would fall. Eventually, the structure was riddled with my excavations, blistered with failed wings. It was ugly, but even so, when a door slammed and my tower finally fell, I was bereft.

In my towerless despair I swore I’d never play again. Blocks were too frail, drafts too strong. But I’ve begun, almost without noticing, to touch a new toy. I am building a box kite. Its structure is light, its framework flexible. I am still in the construction phase, but I find that, since it cannot crash heavily to the ground, my play is laced with less anxiety than before. I had to protect my block stack so fiercely from my playmates, but other kids’ blocks, other kids’ kites are no danger to mine. I’m excited by the shape possibilities. A basic box can morph into a double box or pirate ship kite. I can pull ribs out and replace them, experiment with different fabrics and woods. And it dances on winds that knock towers down.

I’ve been thinking about belief, about how and why we believe things and it seems to me, that you can trace a belief back only so far. If you’re constructing a framework of belief, you start with a foundation. Like a tower, the base determines the entire structure. Foundational blocks say: “There is only one God.” “There is Good and Evil.” “There are other minds.” From this foundation, you build your belief structure, your ethical and moral codes, your dietary and societal laws. This sort of structure does not allow you question the foundation. It must be accepted, or the entire thing collapses. If you approach a Christian tower and posit, “What if there is more than one God?” your tower tetters. The vertical structure of Christianity can not stand without the block God Exists.

The difference between a kite and a tower is that, while the framing members support each other, no one piece is irreplaceable. The God membrane may or may not exist, it can be wholly absent and the kite may still fly. A kite must have structure though. A kite with no wooden pieces is only a pile of silk. The nature of God, the nature of people, the nature of the soul, these are all ribs that can give shape and structure to a kite. Kitemaker says, “I choose to shape my kite thusly” and Towerbuilder says, “This is as it is.” Kites may be structured with “I’m choose to believe that God exists, because, right now, that belief supports and is supported by my frame.” Towers are built on “God exists absolutely and I know that he does because that is my belief”

I’ve been playing with different woods and dowels, trying new materials and different patterns. I have a Nature of God stick in my kite at the moment. I have a Nature of Reality stick too, and I can slid them out and rearrange them, place them in different relationships with the Existence of an Immortal Soul stick that I’m still debating and the Existence of a Destiny rib that I’d like to use, but can’t find a space for. Recently, a dear friend lent me his Nature of God piece and I tried it out in my kite. It didn’t fit, but I was grateful to see that Christianity comes in kites and well as towers.

My project now is to take apart my kite, to spread the pieces on the table and name them, to inventory them and piece them together in the most pleasing way. Then I want to fly my kite. I’ll come back and modify, replace pieces should they break in high wind, but for right now, I am just delighted with the game. It is good to have a toy again.

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