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.