I’m not sure when I first began to divert all my precious breath into the colorful hot air balloon I had sewn together with remnants of mangled religious myths, and yards of unrealistic and projected expectations. But, somewhere between college and grad school, I filled it with enough of my own hot air to launch it into the stratosphere. By the time I was 40, the balloon was so voluminous, so huge, so heavy, even my frantic hyperventilation could no longer keep it aloft. I did not have enough breath in my body, and it crashed to the earth.
Dazed and disoriented, I untangled myself from the yards and yards of brightly stitched stories, and crawled out from under the wreckage. Slowly I began to breathe easier, in and out, no longer winded, no longer light headed. With my precious breath no longer diverted to an untenable cause, I began to examine the pieces of fabric I had sewn together.
The huge swath of purple cloth was the mangled myth of an ancient faith I had adopted as a nine-year-old. The story told of a wise and loving god/man sacrificed by his father god for the redemption of the world. In the corrupt version of that faith, violence was not only allowed, but required somehow by the elder god. In the corrupt version of that faith, we were supposed to also sacrifice our very selves to follow him. Even though I had rejected that interpretation of the story through my studies in seminary, it still permeated the institutions through which I did my work as a minister.