On Flying Nuns . . .
By Robert Ross



I sat on my doorstep, on a quiet tree-lined street. It was midmorning, pleasantly warm; a light breeze meandered its way up the street from the shoreline a short distance away. As I stood, the breeze seemed to drift through me as though the cells of my body were porous. I had had a rather profound experience the night before, and now, this morning, I was in somewhat of an altered state. I felt light, like I could possibly lift off, float . . . like there was nothing holding me to the ground. The thought crossed my mind — “yes, there was a time when nuns flew.”

Not too long ago, nuns flew. Not all nuns mind you. In fact, according to the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Rios, there was just one — Sister Bertrille.

This story about a nun that flew was turned into a T.V. comedy show, starring Sally Fields in the late 1960’s. Although the story was fictitious, the T.V. show seemed to capture the imagination of young and old alike. It struck a chord in the culture — the chord that bridges that gap between the ordinary and the mystical. Nuns . . . flying nuns.

A theme about a flying nun seems to beg the question, was the book based on folklore, on myth? Was there a time when nuns really did fly?

I suggest that there was. There is a special place in all of us — it’s a state of being. And if one happens upon this special state, all is possible, including flying through the air. Twenty-three years ago, that special place was revealed to me — that place where nuns can fly.

Twenty-three Years Ago
We were following a simple meditation presented by the seminar leader. After many minutes in this relaxed state I noticed my breathing pattern shifted, and then suddenly, my legs and arms (and facial muscles) began to involuntarily cramp up — curl up, would be a more accurate description. Within a matter of seconds, I was in the fetal position, back in the womb! At the end of this exercise, the seminar leader brought us back into the room so to speak, instructing us to become aware of our surroundings and follow our breathing.

As my leg and arm muscles had involuntarily contracted, they now began to involuntarily release and relax. As I laid there on the ground tears began to trickle down my face. And, as I took a breath, I noticed that the air flowed into my lungs and continued on down through my lower body, my legs and out of the bottoms of my feet. My lungs were, for a short period of time, bottomless.

Leaving the seminar that evening, I felt somewhat disoriented — the world was different, I was different. The following morning, I was to learn just how different I was.

The Morning After
I wandered out onto the front porch and sat down facing the street. The altered state I was in was intriguing. I was different. I remember seeing the mailman across the street and thinking to myself, when he gets to my house, will he see? Will he see the breeze blowing through me? Will he know I’m different? The veil, behind which I lived for my entire life, had been lifted. For this day, and this day only, I would know with certainty some truths of life. I would know about love and I would know about flying nuns.

As I stood and faced the shoreline, I felt as though the cells of my body were separated, with enough distance between them to allow for the ocean breeze to trickle through me like the wind blowing through a leafy tree. Along with this lightness of being, was the knowing with absolute certainty, that all humans — all humans, at their very essence, love each other. That’s all they do, nothing more, nothing less.

This knowing went beyond a sermon one might hear at a religious service. It went beyond books and seminars on personal growth, beyond thoughts, and ordinary feelings of love. Every fiber of my being (a rather porous being) knew this to be true — all people, at their very essence, love each other.

This state of love, or lightness of being, was, as I reflect, what provoked the thought about nuns. Perhaps in a convent in some far off mountainous area, through prayer and a devotion to higher states of being, a nun entered that special place of love. That place where there is a lightness of being beyond description. That place, where floating through the air is possible. That place where nuns could fly.

As the day progressed, one thing was certain, I could not stay in this state. After all, telling the clerk at the supermarket or the mailman or a law enforcement official that I loved him or her would not work. At some point in this experience I remember thinking that fear was the glue that would hold my cells together.

Fear would ground me — bring me back to the state of being to which I was so accustomed. And that the very acts of driving, shopping, or interacting with people would generate enough fear, or glue, to bring the cells of my body back together, bring me back to an acceptable (in society’s eyes) state of being.

So I went about the business of living, came back to my reality and didn’t share (until now) my revelation that all people love each other — totally and completely. And that more than likely, in a far off convent, there were nuns that flew — and maybe still do.

That place I experienced, the place of complete love was amazing. It transcended all descriptions of love, yet it felt so natural, so truthful. There was an “aha, of course all people love each other — how obvious” feeling about it.

There must be a reason that we’ve chosen to “go about our business,” to live separate and apart from each other, to not acknowledge and experience this highest form of love. There must be a reason. Perhaps when this life is over, in an afterlife, we’ll run around like mad-men, hugging each other, laughing, giggling and acknowledging that very love.

But for now, in this life and at this time, the giggling, the hugging, the joy, the acknowledgment of love will be reserved for personal relationships, personal-growth seminars on love and religious sermons. For now, that is ...

Robert Ross can be reached at 

(c) Copyright 2003 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

Return to the September/October Index page