A faith-full frisbee

A white frisbee, upside-down on a floor.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . .

I am re-posting this piece from the past, because it is one of my favourites.

My eye falls upon a Frisbee—upside-down, silent, waiting—on the family room floor where my son dropped it.

I contemplate the restful disc. I imagine it cutting through the air—or on the air, more accurately—in a free, arcing flight that captures natural forces and submits to them.

It is beautiful. It is science.

It is beautiful science. 

The Frisbee needs a hand to set it in motion, otherwise the object at rest would stay at rest. It must have help. It cannot do it alone.

When a hand hurls it, the aerodynamic forces of lift and drag, high pressure, low pressure, and spin come into play. The Frisbee soars, graceful in its fulfillment of purpose.

The flight doesn’t last forever though. Gravity insists it must land, so the Frisbee touches down to a place of rest once again.

My Frisbee is purpose-built to fly, but that same Frisbee has also served as a doggie water bowl on car trips. A different Frisbee hangs on my office wall as a messenger; its happy face brings me a message of joy every day. Frisbees might be built to fly, but they can do other things too.


And they come in all different sizes, shapes and colours. Some are ring-shaped. Others are even flat and collapsible for ease of travel.

A collection of collapsible frisbees in rainbow colours.

What can we learn from my upside-down Frisbee? 

  • We need a hand to set us in motion. We can learn to expect and accept that helping hand.
  • Capture the forces that surround us and submit to them so we soar gracefully in our fulfillment of purpose.
  • Enjoy the flight while it’s happening, and be present in it.
  • We must land. We can’t fly ALL the time. Landing isn’t just acceptable; it’s desirable.
  • The landing and the lying around waiting for the hand to set us in motion once again is as natural and acceptable and beautiful and scientific as a soaring flight.
  • We are purpose-built, crafted to fulfill a certain function, but we can do other things too. 
  • We can be messengers to brighten someone’s day.
  • We can learn to appreciate all the different sizes, shapes and colours of each other.

The Frisbee upside-down on my floor didn’t soar through the air on an arcing path, but it did travel through the air in a different way—through me, to you, to give us all something to think about.

Now that’s one faith-full purpose I’ll bet the Frisbee didn’t foresee.

I love that beautiful science.

Read about the science of Frisbee flight at Scientific American“Soaring Science: The Aerodynamics of Flying a Frisbee”

14 thoughts on “A faith-full frisbee

  1. marianbeaman

    I will never look at a frisbee the same way, thanks to your tips, Arlene. Today I want to practice one of them: “Enjoy the flight while it’s happening, and be present in it.”

    I have the bad habit of thinking about the “next thing” on my to-do list. Lord, I pray I’ll enjoy today’s moments one by one, which is all any of us has. Right?

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      May you enjoy your flight! For me I have to circle back often to the first point and remind myself that I can’t do it alone. Accept help. Some people do that so naturally. It’s not so comfortable for me. Maybe that will be my challenge for today? A little reaching out.

  2. karen

    Arlene, you have a gift. That post is a treasure. May you continue to soar, and land with dignity and grace (spectacular somersaults and tumbles are acceptable too).

  3. Ally Bean

    You’ve helped me understand how wonderful frisbees are. I have to admit that I’ve never thought much about them. I couldn’t throw one worth a darn, so dismissed them as of no use to me. How wrong I was to not get to know them better.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Ha Ha! I missed your comment earlier – it’s been a busy week. I’m not great with frisbees either, but my son played Ultimate in high school, so he’s pretty good. I envy his ability to throw the darn thing exactly where he wants it to go! Most of the time it cooperates, but then sometimes it doesn’t, and I guess there’s a lesson in that too.

  4. kyoungtravels

    Wonderful! I love all the lessons that frisbees teach, but the one reaching out to me today is that we all must land; we can’t fly all the time. Landing gives us a chance to rest, take stock and gear up for the next flight. Thanks, Arlene.


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