Larry had an amazing revelation in that moment. Balloons are made for air!
Confounded, perplexed and out of ideas, Larry needed help.
Imagine a landscape of green rolling hills. As you look west, these hills are rising higher and steeper. Larry was brooding in the valley just below his home. He was tired and frustrated. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make it through this valley and up the slope of the next hill. He was desperate. Larry was out of options.
Larry was a water balloon. In Larry’s community, water was very special. A Balloon’s value was determined by how much water it could contain. The saying was “The bigger the water balloon, the more significant the water balloon.” When a young balloon was old enough, he was introduced to the water hose. The balloon tradition was to visit the hose regularly and get filled with more and more water. The capacity to hold more water was a sign of maturity and stability and reliability. Being filled with water was all Larry had ever known.
Larry was very introspective and often reflected on the deeper meaning of things. He wondered if there was more to his life than water balloons and his little hill. Some days Larry would look to the west and wonder what might be beyond the next hill. He had a sense of something bigger than himself. He perceived a profound greatness drawing him from outside his current understanding. Larry was conflicted inside. He wanted to honor his tradition of water balloons but needed to satisfy his yearning for more.
When he shared his thoughts with others in the community, they would ask him “why do you think about such things?” Larry was surprised by their apparent indifference. He thought “how can water balloons be satisfied with so little when there seems to be so much more to know?”
Larry set out to climb the next hill. He was compelled to know what was on the other side. He asked for help from others, but they advised against exploring anywhere outside their community. They said it would be dangerous and Larry could get hurt. Larry recognized he was alone on his adventure but he had to try.
Larry had the keen ability to study a problem and find a solution. His problem was how to climb the next hill. He observed that being filled with water meant a balloon could roll or bounce down a hill. Larry devised a plan to roll down his hill, through the valley and up the next hill. His solution was plausible and his plan was sound but his execution didn’t bring success. Larry failed in his own effort. The next hill was just too steep.
Confounded, perplexed and out of ideas, Larry needed help…and he found it.
He saw something he hadn’t seen before. Here, in this valley, was another balloon that wasn’t like Larry. It didn’t touch the ground at all. This new balloon floated. Larry asked the balloon “how is it that you can float?” The new balloon replied, “I’m supposed to float, that is what balloons do.” Larry was curious and asked, “Why don’t I float?” The floating balloon replied, “I presume you are filled with the wrong stuff.”
Larry needed to understand. He needed to know what the floating balloon meant by “the wrong stuff.” Larry was confused and thought “water is good stuff, isn’t it?” No matter how he looked at the problem, he couldn’t see a solution. He had been told his whole life that water was good and to be filled with water was good, but this balloon said it was “the wrong stuff.” Larry still needed help.
He began to see more and more of these floating balloons. He thought to himself, “I wonder if they have always been here and I didn’t notice them.” Larry asked these balloons lots of questions. They enlightened him about air and floating. They explained to him how he could be filled with air if he created opportunity by letting out the water. Being free of water didn’t seem normal to Larry but it was worth a try.
Larry wanted the water gone but he hadn’t determined a way to remove it. One day Larry noticed something remarkable, his water level was lower and he had done nothing to let it out. He realized when he pondered the nature of air, and saw it as something very good, he felt lighter. In these moments of revelation, the water was decreasing.
Larry learned from the floating balloons and intuitively knew he could trust in what they had. Their freedom stimulated and emboldened him. Now in his moments of revelation, he would take in the air as the water disappeared. Larry was being transformed from a water balloon into an air balloon. It didn’t happen overnight and there were frustrating moments but Larry didn’t give up.
Larry was changing and learning and finding freedom, but he sometimes felt alone and missed home. He questioned if it was all worth it. None of his family or friends visited him in the valley. Oddly in his loneliness, he was not afraid. He knew deep within he was on a fantastic journey to discovering something so much bigger and better than he ever imagined.
In these moments he sensed an inspiration that spoke to him and reassured him. This voice, that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, confirmed Larry was doing the right thing. It told him that he was not really alone at all but was learning what it meant to be himself, his true self.
Larry recognized these promptings as a voice he knew. These motivations were the substance of his dreams. This kind and reassuring presence was something powerful and delightful. He trusted this presence and what it was saying from deep inside of him. This divine company brought tremendous peace in his moments of frustration.
Then the day came when he shed his last drop of water. In that moment he felt a great surge of fresh and invigorating air. This was an air like none he had experienced before. This was the air that the floating balloons talked about. Now filled with this air, he began to float.
He left the ground and with each inch, he was in new territory. He climbed and climbed until he could see over the next hill. He felt at home. He felt this was as it should be. He just knew the air carrying him was the same as the air inside him. He experienced an intimacy with the air that surprised and elated him. He felt loved and whole. He was embracing whom he really was, a balloon filled with air.
Larry had an amazing revelation in that moment. Balloons were made for air!
In his new freedom to be one with the air and soar in the breezes, he looked to the west and he saw a great expanse of higher and higher hills that became snow-capped mountains. Larry never expected such a moment. He was free. He could see beyond. He was now certain that what had been calling him all along was the air itself. Larry had been transformed into a real balloon, soaring to places that can only be reached by floating balloons filled with air.
How often do we find ourselves trying over and over to achieve a result and never get anywhere? I bet you have your story of ups and downs and soaring and crashing. I will show you throughout this book how this Larry the balloon parable relates to our own walk. We often assume an identity that is based on our tradition, history, and experiences. At some point we learn that in our oneness with God we are much more than our past. We embrace a union that takes us beyond our perceived limitations and propels us into an eternal reality. We learn to soar.
We can learn a lot from Larry’s story. We can see how law or religion can keep us from becoming what we were intended to be. Religion robs us of our identity. We live a false reality filled with fear and judgment. We create doctrines based on tradition and close our minds to the greater divine reality. Is that too harsh? It was that way for me. See I am Larry and so are we all.
I can understand how being grounded in something, even a false something, can give us a sense of stability. For Larry the water was not what he was intended to carry but it was the very thing that kept him in contact with the ground. In his limited world of hills and valleys, everything was predictable. The very thing that gave him reassurance kept him from his true identity.
We all have our version of water. For some it is religion. For some it is law. For some it is our facades or image or wealth or status or power and more. As our true self we were made to soar above all of those empty promises. Being stuck to the ground is not reality or safety. It is pretend. We were all made to fly. Becoming our true self is our freedom to fly well above our circumstance. We are carried by the divine as we listen to and follow our innermost voice. We transcend a limited temporal understanding to find divine wisdom.
This is Larry’s story and our story. I will give you some tools to help you like the floating balloons helped Larry. You will find substance in your transition so you can recognize and trust in the journey. We are all on that journey. We all need help. We all need others to show us what they have learned.
Some of these tools will be practical like how to interpret the Bible differently. The freedom to see outside our traditional paradigms often opens a door to something much bigger than we expected. I will also share moments where I have doubted or was challenged in my transformation. There have been pillar teachings in the fundamentalist Christian religion that I will reveal as fragile if not completely inaccurate.
My intent is not to tear down but to build up. I want to show you how to be filled with air while getting rid of water. You will feel lighter. You will feel liberated. You will soar.