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Recently, a single red balloon found its way into my backyard, its bottom booted by trickster winds under brooding skies; its redness plummeted me within the experience of Pascal, the kindergartner in the Academy-Award winning short, The Red Balloon (1956) by Albert Lamorisse. Filmed in the run-down Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris, still recovering from the war’s devastation, the mood is somber, its grayness pervasive. Spare is the dialogue amidst the noise of street life.

On the way to school Pascal happens upon a red helium balloon snared within the crook of a streetlamp, frees, then, tames it: its brightness emboldens his fragile sensitivity, easily bruised by the crimped world of adults and hooligans around him; it becomes his confidante. A playful lei-motif traces their developing relationship, with its pranks, foolishness, joys, and grief.

But The Red Balloon is not just an ordinary movie. Its opening scene engages our imagination and plunges us into the world of symbols; some of the following are notable: grey clothing: mourning; the Cosmic Suffering Christ: red balloon; wetness: cleansing; the Divine Child: innocence; stone stairs: heights and depths; and redemption: the cluster balloon ride—thereby imprinting this story upon viewers for decades.

Even today, eyes quicken with smiles whenever the story of Pascal and his red balloon is shared.

Do treat yourself. Both the book and the short are still available on Amazon—even a freebie on YouTube.

 

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“Sing God a simple song/ Laude Laude/ Make it up as you go along/ God loves all simple things/ For God is the simplest of all.” So begins Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (1971).

These lyrics come to mind while perusing the slim volume of poetry, Coral Castles (2019) composed by Carol Bialock, RSCJ; its simplicity moved me to silence, within which I seek words to compose this blog.

Intimate with the Word and receptive to its imprinting upon her psyche for decades, Sister Carol channels ordinary experiences into poems, replete with metaphors; their simplicity dismantles crusty outcroppings in psyches and brightens skies. One- and two-syllable words couple themselves into indivisible wholes that implode within the reader/listener—like biting into a ripe peach that juices the palate with summer’s color. Single-stroke pen and ink drawings intersperse the pages—again, nothing superfluous—and give needed respite before entering the next poem with its revelation.

What appears so effortlessly composed, however, emanates from the poet’s life-long practice of loving the unlovable around the world: in homeless shelters, prisons, and hospitals, wherever she found them. Indeed, all of creation opens onto the Sacred. Through simple poems, Sister Carol Bialock enriches us by making this connection.

I am deeply glad—So will you if you avail yourself of this treasure, Coral Castles, available on Amazon.

 

 

“Hi Clark! Welcome home! Was the beach fun?” I called as I pulled into my driveway and stopped. Hurrying toward me was my seven-year-old neighbor, with what looked like a new toy under his tanned arm.

“Can I play for you, Ms. Liz?” A breeze tossed his blond curls like swooping gulls as he waited for my response. No one was around. It was quiet.

“Why, of course. That would be special!”

“Something I made up—would you like to hear all of it?—half of it?—or one-fourth?” His words plied the rain-washed afternoon with urgency, his freckled nose twitching in anticipation.

“All of it, please. That would be nice.” So now he’s exploring the world of music, I mused, settling into my seat.

He smiled, then lowered his gaze upon the four-string guitar propped against his T-shirt. Intense was his concentration as a melodic line flowed through tanned fingers working the frets, his bare foot keeping time. Then it was over.

“That was great!” I was touched.

“Thanks for listening!” he said, then reached over and kissed my cheek, warmly, not without my gazing into his sapphire eyes: pools of tranquil light bathed me. I had been visited.

I gulped as he trotted home.

 

Available on Amazon

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