Why Not Whirl?

How can we stop ourselves from whirling?

Photo © Dale Walsh/iStockPhoto

by Bruce Sanguin

This posting originally appeared on Bruce Sanguin’s blog IfDarwinPrayed.com. Visit his blog for more postings, webinars, and podcasts on Evolutionary Christianity.

Look! I Am a Whale [1]

We live on the sun’s playground.


Everyone gets what they want.

Sometimes the body of a beautiful woman,

Sometimes the body of a beautiful man,

Sometimes the body of both in one.

We used to play that kind of tag

In the animal world too.

Now a mouse,

Now a tiger,

Look!  I am a whale—I got tired of the land,

Went back to the ocean for awhile.

What power is it in our sinew and mind

That will not die,

That keeps us shopping for the perfect dress?

We have all heard the Flute Player

And keep dancing

Toward Him.


You have seen the Flute Player

And cannot help but Whirl.

When I read this poem yesterday I realized that it summed up what will likely me take a lifetime to say. You gotta love poets. Don’t you love the quality of the questions the poet asks? After describing the diverse forms that this shape-shifting Power shows up in, he asks:

What Power is it in our sinew and mind that will not die?

In the asking we’re dropped into Mystery. It doesn’t matter if you are an engineer, a scientist, or a theologian, you end up scratching your head and agreeing, “yeah, what is That?” And notice that the power in-sinew-ates itself. It shows up in, and as, both matter and as mind. This is an incarnational Mystery.

“What keeps us shopping for the perfect dress?“ What an exquisite question! He takes a mundane and common industry of our daily lives—shopping for a dress (ok, it’s been awhile since I last did this)—and it becomes a poet’s way of interpreting evolution: Spirit trying on a diversity of dresses.

And notice the seismic shift to the first person plural. By asking what keeps us shopping for the perfect dress, we have been subtly drop-kicked into the realization that that Power that will not die and keeps taking various forms is us! We’ve all become mystics in that transition from third person to first person. Ah, the mission of the subversive poet accomplished.

It’s also, all so, playful. The playful tone is in keeping with the grand and sweeping perspective of the poem. It’s hard to take your personal life and accompanying dramas with quite as much seriousness and earnestness, when you taste into being the presence of the shape-shifting Power that will not die and will never stop trying on new dresses.

Doesn’t it make you smile? This poem speaks to our transpersonal self, or better yet, the soul that is waiting to be awakened.

Hafiz answers his own questions with the same playfulness. “We have all (emphasis mine) heard the Flute Player and keep dancing toward Him.” The poet includes everybody here. Nobody is let off the hook. Stop pretending. Everybody knows what it feels like to be drawn toward a deeper perfection, to be allured by the promise of more beauty, truth, and goodness.

We have all heard that song of promise being played by the Flute Player to find a more perfect dress. Well, says Hafiz, take that allurement as the most real thing about you and this blessed unfolding universe. Take that as the Mystery that pushes and pulls at us to assume new forms and new expressions of Self-in-community. This is the music of the Source of Creativity Herself—the Flute Player— that is always and forever bringing forth new universes.

For God’s sake, how can we stop ourselves from whirling?

[1] With thanks to Daniel Ladinsky for this translation found in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master, Penguin Books, 1999.

Bruce Sanguin is a minister serving Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, BC. Bruce is passionate about raising public awareness that there is a form of Christianity beyond the belief-based, biblical literalism that is associated with traditional “church.” His latest book, If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics, won an IPPY gold medal for best spiritual and inspirational book.

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Categories: Bruce Sanguin, Spiritual Growth


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One Comment on “Why Not Whirl?”

  1. January 26, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Great exegesis of the Hafiz poem, Bruce. Keep twirling. Susan

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