Story: Dry Season

March 26, 2023

Ezekiel 7:1-14
John 11:1-45

A dry season had come to the ohi’a forest, and one ‘apapane was worried about it.

She still considered herself young, but she’d long since left the nest, and for most of her life things had been rather predictable in her forest. That is, there would be rain, and there would be sun, and there would be clouds, and there would be rain again. It was often hard to tell when any of those things would happen, but she knew that they would happen, and if it seemed to rain for a long time, the sun would come again.

That season, however, had been very sunny, and the nights had had mostly clear skies. Clouds had spread across the sky sometimes, but they’d been high up and they hadn’t been the sources of rain. She’d been accustomed to sipping water from the tops of leaves from time to time, but she hadn’t been able to do that for several days. That was all right; she could satisfy her thirst with nectar, but she could tell that the trees were beginning to suffer from the dryness themselves.

Trees that went into blossom produced fewer flowers. Other trees simply didn’t go into blossom, or seemed to be putting it off. She was doing all right for now, but she wondered – she worried – about what would happen if this went on. Would there come a day with no flowers at all?

She sang a sad little song as she settled into a branch to sleep overnight. It was a song about sadness and fear and just a hint of hunger and thirst. The ohi’a heard the song, and when it was done, the tree sang its reply in the breeze rustling its leaves.

The ‘apapane didn’t really hear the tree’s song, she was asleep. Instead, the song became something of a dream, and in the dream she saw the sun leaping from the horizon, speeding across the sky, and diving below the opposite horizon – and then it all happened again, faster and faster. She realized, in wonder, that she was seeing days race by in seconds. Those days included sunshine and clouds and rain, but each one took just a brief time before the sun was flying across the sky with the next day again.

Then, in her dream, came a series of days in which the sky stayed blue and the rain didn’t fall. Day after day, and in her dream she saw the flowers fade and wither on the ohi’a. She wondered if this was a sign that the end was near… but then, in her dream, the sun rose one morning behind clouds, and as the sun raced invisibly across the sky, the clouds streamed rain upon the waiting trees below.

As the dream went on, she saw long dry periods and long wet periods, but they both came to an end, turning to rain if they’d been dry and to sun if they’d been rainy.

“Do not fear, little one,” she heard the tree sing as the dream drew to a close. “Do not fear.”

She woke to see the sun rising again, now at its normal pace, and the tree now silent in the still air of the morning. She shook herself awake, and saw that overnight the tree had produced a new set of blossoms – not many, but plenty for breakfast.

“Thank you, tree,” she said, though she wasn’t entirely sure she’d heard the tree singing or not. Still, it’s good to give thanks for breakfast.

“Thank you,” she said again. “I won’t fear.”

Good things and bad things come to us in life. The bad news is that the good things will come to end from time to time. The good news is that the bad things will come to an end, too. Do not fear, because the best news of all is that God’s love is the good thing that never ends.

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

I write these stories first, and then tell them from memory – well, memory and invention – which explains the differences between the text I prepared and the story I told.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

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.

Story: The Hardest Thing

September 25, 2022

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

They were an unusual collection of friends. They literally came from different parts of the world: from land, from sea, and from air, a mongoose, a honu, and a kolea. I don’t know how it first happened, but they’d developed the habit of taking a spot on a beach, with the honu pulled up in the sun, and the kolea looking for tidbits, and the mongoose taking a brief rest while the three talked story.

Today they were deciding what was the hardest thing.

“Rocks are the hardest thing,” shuddered the mongoose. “They hurt my paws sometimes, and a couple times when I wasn’t careful I knocked my head on one. Rocks are definitely the hardest thing.”

“Rocks are pretty hard,” agreed the honu, “but they also make nice shelter when the waves are high. You just nestle in behind them.”

“I fell into water once,” said the kolea. “I have to say it was pretty hard.”

“That’s right,” said the honu. “Water is the hardest thing. When the waves are crashing over me or the undercurrent is pulling me away from the beach, I’m grateful for the rocks. They don’t do that.”

“You haven’t tried the air,” said the kolea. “That’s a hard thing for sure. This last flight here to Hawai’i Island, I wasn’t sure I’d make it. We flew into winds that just blew us back and back and back. I can’t imagine anything harder than that.”

The three of them thought about this for a good long time, tossing in more examples of how rocks and water and air were hard things, when the honu said, “I’m hungry.” His two friends agreed.

They were about to split up to find dinner, when the mongoose said, “Wait just a moment. Wait just a moment and let’s think about this moment.

“Do either of you know that you’ll find food? I mean, absolutely know?”

The honu and the kolea admitted that they didn’t, although the kolea took a quick look around for a handy bug before saying so.

“In this moment, we’re all hungry, we all need food, right? And none of us are certain that we’ll find it.”

“Yes,” said the honu, “but we hope we’ll find it.”

“Right,” said the kolea, “we hope we’ll find it.”

“But isn’t this the hardest thing?” asked the mongoose. “We know what we need now and we don’t know if we can find it – not for certain. We hope we will… but doesn’t that make hope the hardest thing?”

That’s how a mongoose, a kolea, and a honu discovered that hope – that time we spend between realizing what we need and finding what we need – is, indeed, the hardest thing. Hope carries us from one to the other, but it may not be an easy journey, and it’s harder than high winds or strong waves or a solid rock.

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

In the video above, the story was told from memory of this manuscript. Between gaps of memory and flashes of inspiration, the two are not the same.

Photo of a honu (before the arrival of a mongoose or a kolea) by Eric Anderson.

Go Buy a Field

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.'” – Jeremiah 32:15

O, Jeremiah, what a run you’ve had.

God called you in your youth,
a prophet to the nations,
destroyer, overthrower,
whose words would bring the powerful down.

So to a people well assured
their safety and their righteousness
were beyond query, you announced
they’d changed their fountains for a leaky cistern.

You spoke your words to Baruch’s pen,
to read before the king and summon him
and all the nation to repent, reform, renew.
At king’s command your words were shriveled in the flame.

From summons to reform you turned to warning,
warning of disaster unavoidable,
while all this time the guilty prospered,
and the linen loincloth festered in the earth.

You languished in the stocks and raised your plaint
to God, whose flaming word would not relent
within you, making you a laughingstock
and grieving that you’d lived your life.

You watched your city fall, its leaders hauled
away and into exile, a monarch’s uncle crowned
as client king, and knew (as who would not)
that folly’s day of triumph still was yet to come.

And now, confined by royal order in
the palace guard, invading armies all
around the city walls, you hear the Divine Word:
Come, Jeremiah, buy a field.

Come, Jeremiah, buy a field,
because though armies yet will harrow
this beleaguered citadel, destroy its
ancient temple, spatter it with blood,

A day will come when land once more
will pass from family to family,
from ancestor to progeny,
and grain will ripen in the sun.

O Jeremiah, now I have to ask:
Of all the things you suffered
(cisterns, stocks, and ridicule),
was anything so challenging as hope?

A poem/prayer based on Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year C, Proper 21 (26).

The image is Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt (1630) – : Home : Info, Public Domain,

Story: Two Wings and a Prayer

August 7, 2022

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

The oma’o is a fairly small bird, living on the lower slopes of the volcanoes from Hamakua to Ka’u. When you’re an oma’o chick, you’re even smaller. He hatched and grew up in a hole in a koa tree, and about the only thing he could even imagine as he looked out from the hole was:

It’s a great big world, and I’m a very small bird.

He was, of course, a very small bird, but he grew to become, well, a larger but still very small bird. The world outside was still a lot bigger than he was. He watched his parents fly back and forth to and from the nest, and wondered how they did it. Their wings seemed awfully small to carry even their small bodies. Their feet seemed awfully fragile to grip a twig. How was someone like him to have any place in a huge world like this?

Young oma’o do some experiments that lead to flying. They move their wings around and start to preen them, to settle their feathers with their beaks. They start to hop and stretch their legs in the nest – but they don’t leave the nest. In fact, after they leave the nest, they don’t come back to it. They’ll stay where their parents can find them – they still feed them for a  while – but they don’t go back to the nest.

This young oma’o, however, wasn’t sure he wanted to leave the nest. Big world. Small bird. Small wings, big air. It was a night that the winds blew hard that he came to a decision.

“No,” he told his father. “I’m staying here.”

“Very smart, son,” said his father. “It’s a nasty night. The nest is a good place for now, and it’s not a great time to take your first flight.”

“No,” said the youngster. “I mean I’m just staying here. I’m not going to leave.”

The father didn’t know what to say, so he didn’t say anything. Nor did mother when the youngster told her in the morning.

“What are you going to do just staying in the nest?” asked mother.

“What I’m doing now,” he said.

“Wouldn’t you like to fly?” asked father.

“I don’t think so,” said the child.

It was mother who settled down with him and got him to say what was going on. The world was too big. The winds were too strong. His wings were too fragile. He was too small.

Then he asked, “How do you do it, Mom?”

She thought about it. “It is a big world,” she said. “I’m a small bird. My little wings aren’t much to carry me through strong winds. But I’ve got a couple of things that carry me through it all.”


“Well, I haven’t got one just wing. I’ve got two. With only one, I don’t think I’d get far. With two, I can get anywhere I want.”

“But how did you make that first leap of faith?” he asked.

“I just flapped my wings and hopped, and as I hopped I hoped and prayed. Suddenly my wings caught the air and I was flying.”

Without even realizing it, the young fledgling was hopping and flapping. “So a wing and a prayer?” he asked.

“Two wings and a prayer,” said his mother, “and I took my first flight – just like you’re doing now.”

Sure enough, his flapping wings had caught the air and he’d taken off on his first short flight.

“Just like that,” he marveled, “on two wings and a prayer.”

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

The story was told from memory of this manuscript text – which means that in the recording, it’s told differently.

Photo by Bettina Arrigoni – Omao | Hakalau NWR | HI|2018-12-02|13-40-46, CC BY 2.0,

Chasing Hope

June 12, 2022

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Romans 5:1-5

The young pueo had learned many things. He’d learned how to fly, and how to find his way home, and how to spot small creatures in the grasses. He was, in many ways, prepared to begin a life of his own.

But he didn’t know what hope was.

His mother talked about hope a lot. Or muttered about it a lot. “Do you think we’ll find mice out there today?” he’d ask, and she’d say, “Hope.” “Do you think it will be sunny and warm today?” he’d ask, and she’d say, “Hope.” “Do you think I’ll learn something new today?” he’d ask, and she’d say, “Hope.”

Sadly, one of the things that he hadn’t learned by the end of any day up to that point was what “Hope” meant.

So he went to ask grandmother, Tutu Pueo, his mother’s mother. He flew to the rock on which she’d perched and asked, “Tutu, what is hope?”

“Hasn’t your mother told you?” she asked, rather surprised.

“No,” he said. “She mutters ‘Hope,’ a lot, like when we set out to find dinner, or when I ask about what’s coming. But she never says what it is.”

Tutu laughed. “I’ll just have to teach you the way I taught her,” she said. “Come fly with me. Let’s chase Hope.”

Puzzled but willing, he followed grandmother into the sky. “You’ve got to chase Hope,” said Tutu over the rush of the air. “Yes, but what does Hope look like?” asked the grandson, but suddenly she shouted, “Look there! In the grasses!”

Down they pounced to where an unwary mouse had ventured out. They enjoyed their snack, but then he said, “That wasn’t Hope, was it? That was a mouse.”

“You’ve got to chase Hope,” said Tutu. “Come on.”

Once more they took to the air, but clouds were pouring through the gap between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. “Look! There’s Hope!” shouted Tutu and she poured on the speed, heading for the retreating sunshine. Before the rain began to fall they were circling again in the sun.

“That’s not Hope, is it?” said grandson. “Isn’t it just… sunshine?”

Tutu turned lazy circles. “You’ve got to chase Hope,” she called. “Have you learned anything?”

He thought about it. He thought about being hungry, and about chasing something to eat. He thought about wanting to be warm and dry, and chasing the gaps in the clouds. He thought about wanting to learn something, and…

“I’ve learned that you have to chase Hope,” he said. “It’s always somewhere out there ahead, isn’t it?”

Tutu nodded. “And when you catch it, it’s the thing you hoped for – and then Hope becomes the next thing you need or you want.”

When he went home, he found his mother waiting. “Did Tutu teach you anything?” she asked.

“She taught me to chase Hope,” he said. “Do you think I’ll learn something new tomorrow?”

She smiled a pueo smile and simply said, “Hope.”

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

The story as written does not match the story as told – I work from my memory of the text above, but not from the manuscript itself.

Photo of a pueo on Hawai’i Island by HarmonyonPlanetEarth – Pueo (Hawaiian Owl)|Saddle Rd | 2013-12-17 at 17-45-012 Uploaded by snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0,

Hope, Disappointment, Hope

“…Suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us…” – Romans 5:3-5

So much suffering
to endure
wailing, weeping,
crashing, crushing.

Not all survive
what they endure,
no comfort,
no healing.

Some endure
but suffer still,
character assassinated,
spirit speared,
throat raw
from silent shouts.

Character survives
but hope? Not always.
What to expect
but what we’ve known?

But hope
does not disappoint
even if suffering,
and character all fail,
as they do.

Hope does not disappoint.
It has been fulfilled.
We suffer and endure,
and we are not alone.
There is a balm in Gilead.
It heals the shattered soul.

A poem/prayer based on Romans 5:1-5, the Revised Common Lectionary Second Reading for Year C, Trinity Sunday.

The image is Saint Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne (one of my favorite artistic depictions of the Apostle) – Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston, TX, Public Domain,

Election Day 2020

Amidst a global pandemic (which some deny),
amidst racist violence (which some discount),
amidst xenophobia (which some applaud),
amidst voter suppression (which some embrace),
we come to express the will of the People, O God.

May there be wisdom.
May there be health.
May there be compassion.
May there be mercy.

May the will of the People be love, O God.

For this I must hope.

The image “hope” by @polsifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Prophesy to the Bones

Ezekiel once stood upon the city wall.
He stood, he gazed. I’m sure he wept.
For on that day he saw an army
terrible and merciless. It filled the valley,
all the valleys, that encircle Zion.
He stood. He gazed. I’m sure he wept.

When You showed him all those desiccated bones,
O God, what fashion did the valley take
in his imagination? Kidron?
The Outer Valley? Or Gehenna?
Or had You mercy enough to make it look
like a Babylonian valley spanned with gardens?

I doubt it mattered. Ezekiel wept, I’m sure,
upon the wall. I’m sure he wept the see
even an unfamiliar valley overflowing
with the dead. Bones so dry, dry as dust,
unmoistened even by the flood of tears
of a priest and prophet’s grief.

Command me, Holy One, to prophesy
and promise to the dusty bones that they
shall live again. Command me, Holy One,
to summon up the spirit breath to bind
with sinew all these bones. For then shall I
appreciate the salt of joyful tears.

A poem/prayer based on Ezekiel 37:1-14, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Fifth Sunday in Lent.

Photo of a detail of the Knesset Menorah in Jerusalem by Deror avi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Mary’s Prayer

O Jesus, I can hear
the clatter of the crockery,
the puffing of the bellows,
the swirling of the aprons.

O Jesus, I can hear
the half-resentful voice
my sister raised to you;
I hear her dripping sweat.

And Jesus, I can hear the wailing
children, crying refugees,
groaning sufferers, weeping
hungry seekers after justice.

And Jesus, I can hear the silence:
Silence of the powerful.
Silence of the privileged.
Silence of the unjust judges.

What I strain to hear, sweet Jesus,
is your voice. I long to hear
the words of comfort, words of
challenge, words of love.

I long to hear the words
that will unbreak my heart
and melt it into Martha’s,
love showering in tears.

Hold me, Martha, as we weep
together for these words of hope.
I’ll tune my ears to hear your voice
declare your faith in life renewed.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 10:38-42, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 11.

The image is Russian; I regret that I cannot translate the attribution that follows: By Владимир Шелгунов – фотографии переданы представителем ИППО, CC BY-SA 3.0,