Story: Beyond the Horizon

October 30, 2022

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

I don’t know how they became friends, or even how they met one another. When kolea make their journey to Hawai’i Island, they tend to find some space for themselves fairly close to the coastline. They like to look for worms and bugs and such in the grassy lawns that human beings maintain. They’re ground birds, rarely found on roofs or trees.

In contrast, the ‘apapane likes to be in trees, and in trees that grow further up the mountain. As I say, I’m not sure how a kolea and an ‘apapane ever met, let alone how they became friends. But year after year this kolea would make his way back to the Kohala peninsula and, after a good rest and a meal, take a shorter flight up the slopes of Kohala looking for a flash of red in the forest. Then the two of them would talk story until they’d caught up with the last several months.

This year the kolea found the ‘apapane looking… dreamy. After sharing the stories about nests and eggs and chicks, the ‘apapane sat and looked out over the mountain slope down to the sea and beyond. “I envy you,” she said. “You know what’s beyond the horizon.”

The kolea had told that story many times, so he just nodded. “That’s true,” he said. “Out in that direction is a very big ocean, and then there’s Alaska.”

“Do you ever wonder what’s beyond the horizon in other directions?” asked the ‘apapane.

“Not much,” said the kolea. “Except for those two big flights each year, I don’t stray far from the places I’ll find grubs to eat.”

“Well,” said the ‘apapane, turning to the northwest, “what do you suppose is over there?”

The two of them looked at a pile of clouds with a bit of bluish black in the middle. “I don’t know,” he said.

“I wonder,” sighed the ‘apapane.

“Shall I find out?” said the kolea. “I can take a flight to see what’s in the clouds.”

The ‘apapane accepted the offer, and the kolea headed off to the northwest, and was quickly lost to sight. It took nearly four hours before he was back again. He grabbed a snack at the base of the ‘apapane’s tree before joining her on the branch again.

“So what’s over there?” asked the ‘apapane.

“Maui,” said the kolea.

“What’s Maui?” asked the ‘apapane.

“It’s another island, smaller than this one, with a wide valley and a great big mountain on it. That’s the bluish black outline you can see. It’s not nearly as far as Alaska.”

The two birds were quiet for a while, and then the ‘apapane said, “It must be nice to always know what’s over the horizon.”

“But I don’t always know what’s over the horizon,” said the kolea. “I also don’t know what the next day will bring. I hope it will have a tasty worm or two, just the way you hope it will have ohi’a blossoms.”

“We both move into something mysterious, then,” said the ‘apapane, “which we hope will be a little familiar.”

“We both fly into tomorrow,” said the kolea, “with hope.”

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

The story was told from memory of this manuscript in the video recording above. And, well, embellished.

Photo of an ‘apapane in flight by Eric Anderson.

A Boast

“Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Let me boast of the teacher
whose time in the classroom
was short, but whose time
to inspire was longer and glorious
and still… all too short.

Let me boast of the caretaker,
rarely at worship because of her charge,
but shining with spirit in every
encounter, aglow with affection
so clear in my memory.

Let me boast of the less-known,
forgotten, ignored,
whose passage of Earth left its light,
instead of the powerful, wretched indeed,
to leave us so broken in sorrow.

Let me boast of the saints.

A poem/prayer based on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12, the Revised Common Lectionary Second Reading for Year C, Proper 26 (31).

The image is The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs by Fra Angelico (1420s) – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3000363.