This parable by Stephanie Rische won first place in our July writing contest. Contest judge Mary Horner Collins, a freelance editor with more than 20 years’ editorial experience at major Christian publishing houses, called her parable a “lovely, engaging story….good flow, tension and build-up with nice resolution at end. It delivers a warm emotional impact and message of hope.”
By Stephanie Rische
She skipped through the park, a bouquet of yellow balloons haloing her head. She hummed as she went, her feet barely skimming the ground.
When she arrived at her favorite bench, she cradled the balloons, naming the hope each represented—dreams, longings, desires of her heart.
Before long, a woman sat down beside her. “Tell me about your balloon,” she said, nodding to a particularly cheerful-looking one.
She leaned over and whispered her hope into the woman’s ear, smiling shyly.
“Bah, good luck,” the woman snorted. “Never worked out for me.”
Before she could register what was happening, the woman pulled a pin out of her purse and, with a flick of her wrist, popped the balloon.
Swiping at her eyes, she gathered her remaining balloons and rushed out of the park. Too late, she heard a pop and turned to see one of her cherished balloons snagged on a thorn.
She raced home, trailed by a cloud of yellow. Did I not hope hard enough? she wondered. Was my faith too small?
As she sat on the front steps, she willed her fingers to unfurl from the balloon strings. One by one, she let them go, squinting until the last trace of yellow had disappeared.
Taking a big breath, she looped a basket over one arm. “It’s time for a different kind of bouquet,” she said. And she set about collecting rocks—some big, some small. With a marker, she wrote each of her dreams on the rocks before burying them deep into the dirt.
She never forgot her dreams. But now that she wasn’t clinging to them so tightly, her hands were free to hold other things. And one day, to her surprise, she noticed little sprigs of hope peeking out of the ground, right where she’d buried her rocks.
She ran to take a closer look and noticed that some of the hopes looked exactly the way she pictured. Some were bigger than she could have dreamed. Others were a different shape than she imagined but equally as lovely.
These hopes were no mere puffs of air. They were solid. Unpoppable. Undeflatable.
She smiled, put a rock in her pocket, and headed to the park. Who knows? she thought. Maybe there’s someone who needs a bit of solid hope today.
Stephanie Rische edits and writes in the Chicago area, where she lives with her husband and son. When she isn’t chasing down commas or a toddler, she blogs at stephanierische.com. Her memoir, I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See, recounts how God surprised her with his grace and love.
>>Read “The Dawning of Hope,” the runner-up parable in our July writing contest.
Write to Win! Enter our four remaining writing contests. Respond to each writing prompt in English or Spanish, in 400 words or less, and enter to win $50 USD. Check out the contest guidelines.