Puppet or Kite?

Last Sunday, I started mulling over the phrase “marionette me.” I’ve always been impressed by the master marionettests who can bring puppets to life through the subtle, intentional movement of strings, operating unseen. I guess I’ve always appreciated puppets. I was raised on Sesame Street and, more importantly, The Muppet Show. I used to love watching the shadow puppet skits in Bear in the Big Blue House with my children. Even now, every time we go to a toy store, I end up spending some time playing with the puppets, and my children have put on puppet shows for our enjoyment after dinner.

Yet when I think of my own life, being a puppet in the hands of someone else, then the rebel in me rises up, especially if the one pulling the strings does not have my best intentions at heart. It’s why I am always turned off by the Greek and Roman gods. As an English teacher, those mythological stories remind me of the worst possible relationship between the divine and mortals. I don’t want to be a puppet on their strings. Nor do I want to be the puppet of a government or the wealthy elite. But I also find solace in knowing that there is SOMEONE in control, that nothing happens on accident, and there’s a method to the seeming madness.

As a follower of Christ, then, what does that look like? I clearly cannot begin to unpack that seeming paradox of the gift of freewill and the ultimate sovereignty of God in three paragraphs, let alone a poem, but what follows is my own reflection on what that looks like for my life in the hands of a loving God. It’s a prayer of willing submission and an invitation that ends with superfluous joy.

Tethered Joy

Vincent H. Anastasi - 2021

O, Great Marionettest unseen,
marionette me,
each appendage crucifixed
to your loving hands,
yet unlike the skilled puppeteer,
dance me not on earth's immuring stage
before fickle masses
merely to entertain.

Rather, bridle me to your flying line
and slowly let me out
that I, kite-like, might soar
suspended between earth and heaven,
resting content upon the currents
that bear me up aloft on Spirit-winds,
unashamed of who I am,
unencumbered by life's demands,
not detached and distant,
aloof and alone,
but ever rising above,
ever clear in vision,
ever yoked to hands
that animate this majestic dust.

Yes, let that be what they see:
not a puppet life,
a hollow shell or mannequin,
but the hovering kite's graceful flight,
hanging almost motionless in air
with imperceptible motion.
Awe them, eyes heavenward,
tracing the swooping, gliding arcs,
the avian lightning,
rolling upside down,
then striking apexes of air
until these wings sing superfluous joy!

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