The ‘Apapane’s Own Song

Apapane2018

This morning’s story is about a bird, and I imagine that you can guess which one. What bird do you think it is?

[Chorus of “‘Apapane!”]

That’s right. This story is about an ‘apapane. I don’t know why I like these birds so much – it wasn’t the first bird I saw after I moved to Hawai’i – but I know I like them a lot.

When she was first hatched, this ‘apapane didn’t sing. Neither did her brother or sister. In fact, they made a squawking noise to show that they were hungry, kind of like this: [Pastor makes squawking noise. One of the children makes a squawking noise in response.]

Mother? I think somebody’s hungry.

As they grew older, though, even when her brother and sister started to sing, she didn’t. She remained silent as their song echoed through the forest. Her brother and sister encouraged her to sing, and her mother and father encouraged her to sing, and all her aunties and her uncles encouraged her to sing, and she just wouldn’t do it.

She just wouldn’t sing.

Everybody was concerned, so they went to the grandmother – Tutu ‘Apapane – because that’s who you go to when there’s trouble, isn’t it? “Tutu,” they cried, “you must help. Our little one won’t sing!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

To everyone’s surprise, one morning a new voice rang out through the ohi’a trees. She was singing with all her heart and soul.

What she sang, though, was as surprising as the fact she was singing at all. It was a new song. It didn’t sound like the ‘apapane song they all sang. It didn’t sound like the i’iwi song, or the ‘amakihi song, or the ‘omao song, or any other bird they could remember hearing.

They tried to get her to sing the ‘apapane song, but the only sound that rose from her beak was the new song, the one she sang alone.

They were all concerned – her brother and sister, her mother and father, her aunties and uncles – so they went to Tutu ‘Apapane and said, “Tutu, you must help. Our little one is singing, but she is singing the wrong song!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

As time went on, her song became, well, rather popular. Other ‘apapane started to sing it when they thought nobody else could hear. A few of them caught themselves singing in harmony. Sometimes they tried a little counterpoint with her song. Before anybody was quite aware of it, the forest rang with variations on the new song. Despite themselves, the flock grew very pleased.

Until the day she stopped singing.

“Oh, no!” they cried. “We love your song. Sing it with us! Lead us!” But she remained silent.

They were all concerned – her brother and sister, her mother and father, her aunties and uncles – so they went to Tutu ‘Apapane and said, “Tutu, you must help. Our little one has stopped singing!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

It seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn’t so long before a new song echoed through the ohi’a grove. She was singing again, and she had a brand new tune.

Fortunately, the flock had learned Tutu ‘Apapane’s wisdom. They rejoiced in her new song, and they didn’t worry. They sang along – with their classic ‘apapane song, and with her previous melody, and with variations on her new creation. They didn’t even worry when she broke into silence once more. They just waited to see when and how the next notes would fly.

We each have our own song. For some, it might be a song. For some, it might be something you make, or think, or do. There is something unique and special that is your song to sing, your story to tell, your wonder to create.

And that is yours. You choose when to share it, and how. Nobody else can tell you, except if it is causing trouble for others.

I am not telling you that it’s all right to make lots of crayon marks on the wall, OK?

I am telling you that your special creation is yours to share when you feel it’s ready, and as you feel you want to share it. It is your song, and you may sing it when and how you wish.

Photo by Eric Anderson. It has been digitally enhanced to bring out the ‘apapane colors.

The Hungry ‘Apapane Brothers

Two apapaneThis morning’s story is about a particular kind of bird. Now, I have a reputation for telling stories about this one particular kind of bird, so I’ll just put the question out there: Would anyone like to guess what kind of bird this story is about?

The i’iwi? That’s a good guess – really close, in fact – but no.

Wait, I think I just heard it…

Yes, it’s the ‘apapane. (The room settles into comfortable expectancy.) Although actually, it’s not.

It’s about two ‘apapane!

They were brothers. They’d hatched from eggs in the same nest, about an hour apart from each other.

Why yes, just the way you two are brothers. Only I don’t think you two were hatched? Were you? Am I wrong? No. OK. I thought not.

I also suspect that you weren’t born an hour apart. Right. Mom says not. Three years apart? OK.

Well, these two ‘apapane were hatched just an hour apart.

They grew up together, and learned to fly together, and had the same friends, and they wore the same wonderful feather cloaks of rusty red and white and black.

Not surprisingly, since ‘apapane tend to like the same things, they had the same taste in food. That’s also where the trouble came in.

You see, when they’d see an ‘ohi’a tree in blossom, they’d both swoop down to drink the nectar from its flowers. That’s fine. That’s what ‘apapane do.

But these two, well, not only would the swoop down to the same tree, they’d land on the same branch. Not just the same branch, but the same cluster of flowers. And when they went to dip their beaks, they’d aim for the same single blossom. At the same time. So they’d bang their foreheads together.

Then they’d sit there on the same cluster along the same branch in the same tree and scream, “MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE!”

Each time they’d scream, “MINE!” they’d jab their beaks at each other, and the screeching echoed around the forest.

Their friends soon learned to get out of the way when this started. For a while, they tried pulling them apart, but they weren’t so much driven away as ignored. They’d scream “MINE!” no matter what they did.

Their parents tried to intervene, and got no farther. In desperation, they went to the older ‘apapane for advice. Some had some, and they tried it, but nothing worked. Finally, one wise ‘apapane, who had seen many things in her time, said, “Let them alone. They will discover one day that the ‘ohi’a do not belong to them.”

And so the forest continued to resound with the screaming: “MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE!”

There came the day when the two brothers flew to the same tree, landed on the same branch, hopped to the same cluster, and bonked their heads together over the same blossom. The screaming got started and wouldn’t stop. The other ‘apapane flew to other trees to escape the noise, but the two brothers didn’t notice. They didn’t notice as the sun dipped below the treetops. They didn’t even notice that the ‘ohi’a blossoms themselves were fading away, dropping from beneath them and going to seed. They screamed and they screamed and they screamed.

Not even an ‘apapane’s lungs can keep that up forever. Gasping for breath, they looked at each other, and then looked down at the blossoms that had faded away beneath them. It was a cluster of seeds. And finally they knew.

The ‘ohi’a lehua did not belong to either one of them. The blossoms did not belong to any ‘apapane. The flowers belonged to the ‘ohi’a trees, who shared them with the ‘apapane, and the i’iwi, and the ‘elepaio.

I hope you’ll remember that we do not own the living things of this world of ours, not the ‘ohi’a, nor the birds of the air, or the fish of the seas, or any of the people. God has shared them with us. Let us remember to always share God’s creation with the other living things of this Earth.

There are two ‘apapane in the digitally enhanced image above. Photo by Eric Anderson.