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,

All I Ask

[Jesus said,] “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” – John 14:14

I’m asking.

I’m asking for deliverance from a virus.
I’m asking for deliverance from all-encompassing folly.
I’m asking for deliverance from the demands of greed.
I’m asking for deliverance from injustice.

I’m asking.

I’m asking for deliverance from my loneliness.
I’m asking for deliverance from my narcissism.
I’m asking for deliverance from my burdens.
I’m asking for deliverance from my sin.

I’m asking.

I’m asking for deliverance from my grief.
I’m asking for deliverance of the world’s grief.
I’m asking for deliverance of the world’s violence.
I’m asking for deliverance from… it all.

I’m asking.

What say you, Jesus?
Shall we wait at this table until it comes to pass?
Here, at least, we have the bread to sustain us…
Except that it has not been broken yet in you.

A poem/prayer based on John 14:1-14, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, fifth Sunday of Easter.

The image is The Last Supper by Jacopo Tintoretto – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain,

And… That Prayer

Photo of two plaques on a wall. On the left is a text of the Lord's Prayer in Tahitian; on the right is the text in Japanese. A cross hangs on the wall between them.

[Jesus] said to them, “When you pray, say:…
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive
everyone indebted to us.”

– Luke 11:2a, 4a

Teach me to pray, Jesus.
Teach me to pray to the One in Heaven.
Teach me to pray to the Hallowed Name.
Teach me to pray for a Peaceable Realm.
Teach me to pray for the Needs of Today.
Teach me to pray that You will Forgive.

Qualified forgiveness, of course.
It would hardly be right
if All and Sundry received forgiveness.
So forgive me only if…



If I forgive?

You have got to be joking.

Let’s take a good look at this.

Shouldn’t it be God, or shouldn’t it be You,
responsible for forgiveness here?
Can’t you make the choice?
Can’t you make the call?
Aren’t you far more dependable than I?

When you told bold Cephas
that he held the keys to heaven and hell,
did you tell him they were the keys to his own?
That grace received depends on grace extended?
Did you?

Good God, Jesus, don’t give those keys to me.

Seriously, don’t give those keys to me.

Damn it.

What’s that jingling noise?

A poem/prayer based on Luke 11:1-13, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 12.

The picture shows the Lord’s Prayer in two languages – Tahitian and Japanese – at the Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Photo by Ori~ – Own work, Attribution,

Holy Week 2019: Monday

Where the Gold Lies

I wrote this song in the fall of 2018, when a number of conversations turned to a wish for Jesus to come along and start to flip some tables. I expected it to be a rousing, even raucous anthem: but it turned to lament.

They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus.
They’re not giving full value for each coin.
They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus.
They’ve turned a house of prayer…
Into a house of thieves…


What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
The gold is piled high…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
Do you see where the gold… lies?

They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus.
They won’t even pay the builders their full coin.
They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus.
They’ve given all that power…
Into the hands of thieves…

Listen… to the gold lies.
Listen… to the golden lies.

We’ve exchanged our priests for tycoons, Jesus.
We’ve given our worship to the coin.
We’ve traded priests for tycoons, Jesus.
We’ve given our allegiance…
To generations of thieves…

[Final Chorus]

What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
The gold is piled high…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
Or the tables, where the gold… lies?

Flip the tables: the gold… flies!
Toss the tables, Jesus. Make the gold… fly!

© 2018 by Eric Anderson

A Prayer over the Ashes (Ash Wednesday 2018)

File Feb 14, 1 28 24 PMHoly One,

As our ancestors donned ashes to show their sorrow and grief, we take on ashes today. We grieve for our losses and suffering, the loved ones who have gone from us, the hardships we have known, and the evils we have suffered. Comfort and heal us, Gracious God, in the ashes of our grief.

We sorrow also in the sins we have committed: the evils we have done to one another, the mercies we have failed to offer, the kindnesses we have failed to share. May the grief we show in these palm ashes guide us to a closer journey in your ways.

With these gritty marks, O Holy One, on head or hand or simply taken deeply in our hearts, let us leave behind the ashes of our past misdeeds and suffering. May we follow new and better ways with you. Guide, forgive, renew, and heal us, by the merciful power you have shown in Jesus Christ our Savior.


“Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return, in the love and grace of God.”

A Musical Prayer

On November 13, 2016, Church of the Holy Cross UCC celebrated “Sing Praise Sunday,” a service with very little speaking and plenty of music. Children sang, the choirs sang, the people sang (their favorite hymns, so they sang right out!), and the pastor couldn’t quite see speaking a pastoral prayer, so, there was this:


Here are the lyrics:

Creator God be with us.
Send us rain and shine upon us all.
In steadfast love incline our hearts to justice.
Raise us when our weary spirits fall.
Raise us when our weary spirits fall.

Savior Christ be with us.
Heal all those suffer, those who sigh.
Forgive us when we serve ourselves, not justice.
Raise us to eternal life on high.
Raise us to eternal life on high.


God, hear our prayer.
Christ, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, hear our prayer.
Bring your grace
To your world.

Holy Spirit be with us.
Guide us as we find our way.
Fill us with the fire of your compassion.
Inspire your children as we pray.
Inspire your children as we pray.

(Chorus, repeat third verse)

I Wish…

IMG_1082I wish I had words to express my sorrow.
I do not.

I wish I had words to express my anger.
I do not.

I wish I had words to persuade the world.
I do not.

Only tears gathering at the corners of my eyes,
Tears insufficient to cleanse the bloodied shirts
Which could not shield the ebon bodies
Desecrated by lead.

I wish I had words to speak the bullets back to the chamber,
The fingers off of the triggers,
The guns back into the holsters,
The fear out of the hearts,
The aggression out of the speech.
I do not.

I wish I had words so all the world would know
And act as if it knew
That #blacklivesmatter.

But I do not.

In anger and in sorrow at the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile.

Say Their Names

Say their names.

It was Saturday night in Orlando.
The night was filled with dancing,
Music whirling bodies merrily about the floor,
Laughing with loved ones
In common sanctuary,
When Death arrived, spinning bullets
Striking spinning dancers to the stone.
Rainbow festival yielded to one color, crimson.
Their names, accented with the Spanish
Of Caribbean islands or of South
American towns, spill haltingly
From my awkward tongue,
Because my voice is choked
With tears.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Cory James Connell, 21
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Kimberly Morris, 37
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

As their friends and families mourn their murders,
Say their names.


A Tuesday Morning’s Dialogue of Twitter Prayers

This series of brief prayers was born on Twitter in an impromptu conversation between the amazing Rachel Hackenberg and myself. When I saw the first one, it sparked the second, and to my delight she replied with the third. For a few minutes, as we each prepared ourselves for the day, we exchanged these poems 140 characters at a time.

She has very kindly given me permission to collect and publish them here. But make sure to visit regularly and benefit from her words and wisdom!

Rev. Hackenberg’s poems are indented to the left; mine to the right.
If a star can shine
beyond its extinction,
surely I can manage
to rise and shine
through my weariness.
Help, God.
If the tiny monarch’s
Cloak of salmon and sable
Can float it across the miles
Perhaps even I can fly. 
Help me, God.
If a song can sway the air
and pierce the heart until
the trees dream of love,
maybe I too can dance. 
Help me, God.
If an insubstantial thought
Can leap the miles
Flutter the heart 
Open the eyes
Maybe even I can hope. 
Help me, God.
And if there is hope,
then at last the moon
can sigh and melt, and
the sun can bleed with life.
God, help.
And if there is life,
Then sun and moon and tears of clouds
Can rain upon the earth
To call forth wild growth. 
God, help.

Courage in the Candle

I’ve been asked (okay, by only one person) to post the lyrics to this song, so here they are. The song was written on Sunday, December 16, two days after a gunman slew his mother, six educators, and twenty first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life. The recording comes from a prayer service held December 16th at First Church of Christ Congregational UCC in Glastonbury, CT.

Courage in the Candle
by Eric Anderson

Our voices rise up as from Ramah.
Oh God, from where will comfort come?
Rachel cries out for her children
Who will not be coming home.
We wait and hear only of horrors
And we ask how once again
This violence erupts among us
Leaving anguish, grief, and pain.

Into the shadows Bear a candle
A tiny spark Against the night
Into the sorrows Of an uncertain world
Raise the promise of your light.

Though the cause of evil prosper
Yet ‘tis love alone is strong
Though innocence is placed in danger
And power exercised for wrong
God is waiting in the shadows
Where human grief and sin shall cease
A holy light shines in the darkness
And heaven’s children find their peace.


I will not accept the darkness
As my predestined home of woe
I will not despair of loving
Although its losing grieves me so.
I will take courage in the candle
And hold its flame before the night
Where God is waiting in the shadows
Together, we will shine with heaven’s light.


This song copyright 2012 by Eric Anderson