When I was a young boy of six or seven years old, my dad taught me how to make a kite. He first taught me how to make what looked like a crossbow out of walis tingting, cover it with glue and attach plastic over it. Then he taught me how to tie the ends of the walis tingting with thread. He also taught me how to put plastic on the two ends of the kite for balance. The secret was attaching the thread and/or nylon string: it has to be attached strongly enough to withstand the winds but flexibly enough to allow for movement. He then gave me a used can of Alpine evaporated milk to wind the long thread.
And then, he taught me to whistle.
Whistling was magic for me at that age. It was magic because it brought the winds. On hot Saturday afternoons, my dad would whistle and I would wait with bated breath for the inevitable cold winds to come and carry the kite into the vast skies.
The most important lesson was the whistle. I had a hard time learning it. I didn’t know how to pucker my lips and produce sound with it. Or if I produced sound at all, it was usually hoarse and not loud enough to bring in the winds.
After a few weeks of practicing, I finally learned to whistle. I also learned to wait with bated breath. And to wait for the winds to come. And to wait for the kite to be carried into the skies.
[quote]The lesson of the whistle is actually a lesson of hope. We make a kite and let it fly in the middle of the summer heat. We make a kite and let it fly to signal that all is not lost to the summer. We whistle, because we hope for winds to carry the kite we made. We whistle, because we hope.
We need hope today more than any other time. William Lynch once said that people in depression and hopeless situations suffer an “impoverishment of imagination”. People are hopeless because they simply cannot imagine a world better than the one they are in now.
Hugh Kenner, in his book The Pound Era, wrote: “Whoever can give his people better stories than the ones they live by is like the priest in whose hands common bread and wine become capable of feeding the very soul.”
We tell stories of hope for our people not because we are blind to the events around us, and we are in denial. We tell stories of hope because we know things will be better. We tell stories of hope because we look at our God and see and feel and understand and realize that this God we are hoping with and hoping for is a God with a better record than we ever care to admit. We tell stories of hope because we know that words, even if it is lame for the one giving them, is hope for the hopeless. And words of comfort–with constant presence–are oftentimes enough. And because bread and wine still has the power to feed the very hunger of the soul.
Bonum futurum arduum posibile. A good future that is difficult but possible. That is what we hope for. We work for it. We give it our best shot. We try our darndest. And when we have done all that, we sit back. And wait with bated breath.
Because you can make a kite all you want, but if there is no wind, it doesn’t fly.
And so we whistle.