The Whistling Flower
When I returned from Rome
A bird took flight.
And a flower in a field whistled at me
As I passed.
From a stream of clear water
And at night the sky untied her hair and I fell
Clutching a tress
When I returned from Rome, all said
“Tell us the great news”,
And with great excitement I did: “ flower in a field whistled,
And at night the sky untied her hair and
I fell asleep clutching a sacred tress…”
-St. Francis of Assisi
It’s easy to become so consumed with the details of our busy lives that we fail to notice the whistling flowers and the sacred tress in the night sky.
Yet, what about the moments that are not so beautiful or picturesque? In these moments, we can struggle just to stay above water, let alone notice the whistling flowers. Sometimes life is heavy and dark and confusing. And no book or pithy quote or spiritual poem can pull us out of our experience.
So maybe that is where we have to go—back into the experience of the body. We go right to the breath—we take in the reality of our experience; we hold it, and then we let it go. We don’t talk ourselves out of our sadness or difficulty. We don’t tell ourselves we should only be seeing whistling flowers. We see what we see. We feel what we feel.
And actually by being present with the reality of our experience, we can fully integrate all that is happening. We aren’t denying pain, hiding secrets or telling ourselves lies. And then the wisdom of our being guides us; it tells us how to mourn and how to heal and how to embrace the truth of our lives.
I love these words by St. Francis of Assisi, but let us remember that they reflect only part of the experience. There are moments of rapture and moments of sadness, and both should be held and honored.