Listening while Whistling a Happy Tune

Listening while whistling a happy tune… What is the melody of that happy tune? What is the sound of joy? I am not much of a whistler myself, but I have savored the lilt of joy that floats on breezes and gladdens the heart.

Sometimes the melody wraps around my heart like a kaleidoscope, twisting and turning small bright pieces this way and that, producing endless beauty. This melody enables me to take the events of daily life and twist and turn them to another vision, to newer relationships and to understanding life in a different, perhaps, fuller way. It is listening with an inner ear to wonder or amazement, to hear the melody of the Spirit giving deeper insight or more profound understanding and compassion.

Our lives can be so full and so fast in this millennium, so compacted and so demanding. We see so often on-line classes, courses on mindfulness and self-compassion assisting us to be in the present moment to its full. Mary Oliver wrote in her poem, “Don’t hesitate,”

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give into it.”

When I reflect on the kaleidoscope of my life, I begin to understand bits and pieces of experience in the loving scheme of God’s provident plan for creation, and for me, as part of that creation. Sunsets behind the mountains have a unique lure to peaceful joy and serenity. One wintery night on the Nevada desert, I was amazed at the sight of Hale-Bopp comet filling the night sky with an overwhelming sprinkling of light. I was immediately silenced in thought and word, just to take in the enormity of creation and joy of being surrounded and held in the Creator’s embrace. And so many more bits and pieces, from the gurgling icy-cold, thirst-quenching waters of the Merced River after a long trek through Yosemite to the roaring force of Niagara Falls; from the agile squirrel that scampers across the yard to the swift hummingbirds and graceful butterflies that visit the flowers. The wonder of creation fills my kaleidoscope of life and reveals more and deeper with each turn of joy.

Mary Oliver continues in her poem on joy, explaining,

It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.

It is people who most powerfully fill the kaleidoscope of my life, the loving relationships that give joy and meaning, moments when hope and compassion given and received spark a new dimension of loving and healing. The bits and pieces of my life mirror those of all ordinary people: companioning in presence and in prayer, a friend anticipating hard news from the doctor; hearing the delight of a little girl dying of leukemia listening to tales of love and life; knowing the satisfaction of an adult reading for the first time; seeing eyes lit with gratitude in the welcome to a new land and a new security; cooking for, laughing with, loving the people of my daily life. The wonder of joy is that it is all around, sometimes miniscule…many times missed.

Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Joy is here and now…found with a kaleidoscopic lens that can turn and twist the pieces of life to reveal patterns of celebration and providence in which I hear the melody of that happy tune that lightens and brightens everyday moments into moments of sheer presence. And that listening, certainly, gives something to whistle about!

Sister Deborah Lockwood

Franciscan Sister

Redwood City, CA