Holy Mountain


“I lift my eyes unto the hills
from whence comes my help…”
Did Isaiah read those words
when he looked upon Mount Zion
envisioning a peace so great
it changed the natural world?

Did the ragged stones still linger
from the decades-old destruction
of Solomon’s Temple, David’s city?
Or had the walls begun to rise?
Did they crown the mountain’s peak,
bathed with Ezra’s tears?

Did the lions prowl
the fallen stones of yesteryear,
was Zion’s limestone face
turned to the azure sky?
Did grasses wave, or cedar planks
rise from the sacred mount?

For both these worlds exist
in company within the prophet’s words:
the temple shaped by nature,
and the temple raised by people.
Which was, I wonder now, the vision,
and which the visioner’s reality?

A poem/prayer based on Isaiah 65:17-25, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible reading for Year B, Mountain Sunday. The opening quote is from Psalm 121.

Photo (of Mauna Kea, not Mount Zion) by Eric Anderson.



Oh, it’s an easy choice, O God.

“Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black…”

Now that’s what I call an
unattractive option, and since
the alternative before me is:
“The heavens are telling
the glory of God…”
I’ll take Your glory
any day.

Unless, of course, I need
to get from here to there,
in which case I’ll just depart, a bit,
from careful handling of Creation,
gentle dwelling on the Earth.
No, I will swaddle myself in bucket seats
and give my not-so-weary feet a rest
to make that not-so-difficult,
oh-so-arbitrary journey.

And so I will add carbon’s sable
to the sky.

Yes, it’s an easy choice, O God.
Give my Your glory!
Unless it’s inconvenient…

For me.

A poem/prayer based on Jeremiah 4:23-28 and Psalm 19:1-6, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible and Psalm readings for Year B, Sky Sunday. 

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Is It? Is It, Really?


“And God saw that the light was good…”
“And God saw that it was good.”
“And God saw that it was good.”
“And God saw that it was good.”
“And God saw that it was good.”
“And God saw that it was good.”

Is it? Is it really?

There are plenty of religious systems, Holy One,
who look out at the world and see a mess.
I mean, a mess: cacophony of sight and scent
and sound (and fury) and taste and touch.
The lingering odor of fading floods, the itchy
pull of drying mud along my hairy arms,
the dreary sight of muddy water, marked
by echoes of a terrifying roar.

Then there’s those annoying birds, who
sing in an unrelenting cackle, or the coqui frogs
whose endless searching for their mates confounds
the quest for rest. My hearts leaps from its place
to hear the canine growl. And God, just don’t, please don’t
let me get started on the bugs. And creeping things
that bite and sting and munch on grain
and ferry our disease (just as a start).

And need I mention hurricanes, and searing stone,
and deathly droughts, and flowing floods,
and howling winds, and mounting waves,
and driving snow, and shaking earth?
This, all this, you see as good?
And oh, for just a moment, would that I
could contemplate with your embracing eye:
to see Creation’s web connected.

For just a moment, to embrace the flood
that nourishes the ground, welcome the fire
that clears for new-sprung grasses, taste
the cleansing of organic rot, hear the crackling heat
as new stone finds its shape, to see
the lonely tree that stands above the flood,
drinks its spreading waters and declares:
“I, too, see and know that it is good.”

Perhaps then I would know that it is good.

A poem/prayer based on Genesis 1:1-25, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible reading for Year B, Planet Earth Sunday.

The photo is of a monkey pod tree standing above the inundated Hilo bay front parks on Saturday, August 25, 2018, flooded by four feet of rain from Hurricane Lane. Photo by Eric Anderson.

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.