A balloon salesman was selling balloons on the streets of Mobile, Alabama one October day. He sold them in multi-colored packets of various sizes of balloons. He also sold helium-filled balloons. When business was slow he would twist the balloons and turn them into animal and flower shapes.
As he transformed the balloons into shapes children would converge with their parents in tow. In the middle of his balloon-shaping routine he would occasionally release a helium-filled balloon to add to the drama and excitement for the children.
His business would pick up for 15 or 20 minutes and so he repeated his shaping and releasing sequence three times every hour. He also changed the color of each balloon he released, first releasing a white one, then a red one, and later a yellow one.
One day an Afro-American youngster pulled on his coat sleeve. The salesman glanced down at the boy who was wearing a soiled ball cap.
“Well. Hello there young fella. Would you like a balloon?”
“No, sir. I got my bottle caps.” He pulled a handful out of his pocket and showed them to the salesman.
“Oh, I see,” said the salesman, grinning at the boy’s innocence. “I’m afraid you can’t purchase balloons with bottle caps.”
“I can’t afford no balloons,” the youngster responded. Then he looked the vendor directly in the eyes and spoke softly, “What I want to know is, if you released a black balloon, would it rise up too?”
The balloon salesman stooped beside the little boy and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Yes, son, it would. As a matter of fact I have some black Halloween balloons with me. I only sell them on Halloween. But, yes, they soar like the rest of them. Here, I’ll demonstrate for you.”
The salesman pulled a Halloween balloon out and inflated it with helium. Both of them watched as the balloon soared upward.
The youngster grinned, relieved that the black balloon was as good as the white, and red, and yellow balloons. As the balloon salesman rose he noticed a tear in the boy’s eyes. He knelt down again.
“See, the balloon is going so high, it’s almost out of sight,” he said as he pulled on the bill of the boy’s cap. “Son, it’s what’s inside the balloons that causes them rise. And it’s what’s inside of you that causes you to succeed in life. There’s greatness in you. Will you remember that for me?”
The youngster smiled brightly this time. “Yes sir, I will.”
“Here,” offered the salesman, “These balloons are for you.” He pulled two black balloons out, filled them with helium, and gave them to the youngster. He saw the little boy leave with a smile on his face.
One of the bystanders who over-heard the conversation said to the salesman, “The boy is from the ‘Down the Bay’ area of Mobile, the poorest side of town. He uses bottle caps as baseballs and hits them with a stick. It’s a common practice for kids down there.”
They both watched the boy release one of the balloons and then quickly grab its string. He repeated the release and catch tactic as he walked away from them.
The youngster remembered what the balloon salesman told him, “Son, it’s what inside the balloons that makes them rise. There’s greatness in you.”
The boy grew up to become a professional baseball player. He stopped hitting bottle caps and hit baseballs farther and more often than anyone else.
During his professional career, ‘Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs, a record that held for 33 years until Barry Bonds broke his record in August of 2007.
‘Hammerin’ Hank is the only player to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least 15 times. He is one of only four major leaguers to have at least 17 seasons with 150 or more hits.
Hank Aaron was on the All-Star team every year from 1955 until 1975. That’s 20 years! He still holds the ML record for the most runs batted in (2,297), the most extra base hits (1,477), and the most total bases (6,856).
Not bad for a boy who smacked bottle caps with a stick. Was it fate, or an accident, or chance that he met that particular salesman, at that particular time, on that particular street?
Hank Aaron’s accidental meeting with that balloon salesman is the subject of our 7th in a series of ‘Get Over It’ messages. This morning we will examine the well-known New Thought phrase ‘nothing happens by accident.’
The phrase itself is true, but misleading. Of course ‘nothing happens by accident.’ There are no accidents in the sense that in and of themselves they suddenly appear out of nowhere, without a precipitating cause.
Any competent safety professional will tell you that. Accidents are caused. They are the effects of a series of events which lead up to them.
It is the way people toss this saying around that has put it on our list of phrases to ‘get over.’ This phrase is used much in the same way as people use ‘divine timing’ and ‘divine appointment’ to explain what happens to them.
The statement that ‘nothing happens by accident’ suggests that everything happens as it is supposed to happen.
And what is supposed to happen is determined by fate, or karma, or God, or cosmic beings ‘out there’ who are in charge of engineering our earth experience.
Cher and I invite you to ‘get over’ that way of thinking immediately. It places your power, and self-determination, and your ability to be the captain of your fate outside of you.
We are NOT here to be the products of an ‘outside in’ mythology. We are here to be the architects of an inside out theology.
It will require a change in consciousness. It will take a transformation in consciousness. And that transformation includes becoming more sensitive of what we say, think, and do.
Our message is – it is NO ACCIDENT that you are reading this today:
It is NO ACCIDENT that you are where you are on your spiritual journey.
It is NO ACCIDENT that you are seeking answers to difficult human challenges.
It is NO ACCIDENT that you are becoming aware that you are divine beings having a human experience.
It is NO ACCIDENT that you are the Christ expressing as you.
And so, it doesn’t matter what color your balloon is – white, red, yellow, black, or brown – you can soar as high as anyone else, because it’s what’s inside of you that counts.