A few days ago, on Easter Sunday, I reminisced about my adventures on last year's holiday which fell during my two-and-a-half month-long trip to Malaysia. Surely, I posted about it on my blog, right? But when I went looking for an entry, I realized that I never wrote about this beautiful morning.
Well. Better late than never, right?
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We left the house at 6:30 a.m.
Let's be honest. I don't get up and moving at that dark and despicable time of day unless I have a darn good reason.
A Malaysian hot air balloon festival? Yes. That's a good reason.
Now I'll admit that I was a bit forlorn on the morning in question. I love the story of Easter, and I look forward all year to the joyful celebration of Easter morning worship at my home church. While I was very happily enjoying my long stay on the other side of the planet, on this particular morning, I was just a wee bit sad to be away from home.
But by the time we rounded up our posse and drove about a half hour south of Kuala Lumpur to the adminstrative capital city of Putrajaya, my curiosity was in overdrive. Dawn had broken. In a central parking lot, countless yards of gently billowing nylon lay quivering on the ground. Though a fence on the perimeter kept us onlookers at a safe distance, there were plenty of people quietly attending to their business among the still forms of the sleeping balloons. In the calm and relatively cool morning air, we watched with reverence and anticipation for signs of new life.
With the blink of an eye, a change passed over the tarmac. Whooooosh! From one work site to the next, propane burners burst into life, directing superheated air into the empty envelopes and sending shock waves of excitement and adrenalin through the crowds. Honestly, I think the workers themselves were the most thrilled of all - their voices rose in pitch, their movements became more animated, and their delight in the balloons' transformation was palpable.
Slowly, slowly, each balloon tilted up from the ground, standing full and ready over its now seemingly-tiny basket. And then, as we all seemed to hold our breath in response to the pure magic before our eyes, the enormous, graceful, brilliant, gently swaying beings silently lifted off the earth and sailed up, up and away.
I was awestruck. As the last of the air-filled giants silently floated away, I pondered the amazing sights I had just seen. While I had missed my traditional Easter worship, I wondered if my morning's experience might have been a bit like that first Easter day when, just after dawn, a quiet place was suddenly transformed by larger-than-life glory. Surprisingly, I felt a new kinship to the two women, Mary and Mary, who were the first to discover that Jesus had risen from his grave, first-hand witnesses to the miracle of resurrection.
And that was a very lovely discovery on my Easter morning in Malaysia.
P.S. After the balloons had all sailed away, I went with my host and all of his lovely family-in-law to eat breakfast. And I found myself hoping that, after all the hub bub of that first Easter morning finally died down, Mary and Mary had a nice big brunch themselves. Happy Easter!
^ Me, Wannie, and Aleesya, ready for some food!
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To find all the stories of my amazing adventures in southeast Asia, go here: