The Pueo Who Wouldn’t Cry

Asio_flammeus_-Hawaii-8_(2)A pueo sat in a tree, looking out over the world around him.

Which, I must confess, looked to him mostly like just leaves, since his branch was pretty sheltered. Still, there he was, looking out at things, and enjoying the day.

Down below his tree, he heard the voices of two people as they walked through the forest. I’m afraid, however, that they were saying some pretty foolish things.

One declared, “I never, ever cry. If you’re in tears, you’re weak.”

The other replied, “Right. I don’t cry either. Why, crying makes you look like a baby.”

The pueo thought about this long after they were gone. He, after all, didn’t want to look weak in front of the other owls. And he didn’t want anybody to mistake him for a baby. Er, a chick.

Now, like other owls, the pueo has tear ducts, but it’s just to keep their eyes from getting dry. When they’re upset, they don’t cry. They might flap their wings about, or ruffle their feathers (at this point I made a completely unsuccessful attempt to rustle my own feathers). They might make a sound (Hoo!) or they might stamp their feet. But they don’t cry.

Nevertheless this pueo decided that he, too, would not cry, like those human beings he’d overheard.

He decided that the problem was going to be blinking. That’s when the tear ducts would open, and his eyes would get moist. How to stop from blinking, though?

He could keep his eyes closed – that would do it – but that would make it awfully hard to find food. No, Mission Eyes Closed was a bad plan.

He could, however, keep his eyes open. So with eyes held wide (lest they blink by accident), he took up an unblinking gaze at the world.

If he’d had a toothpick to put underneath his eyelids, he would have tried it.

He’d been doing this for a while when an ‘io swooped in and perched on a nearby branch. He couldn’t help but notice the pueo staring wide-eyed out into space. Er, leaves.

“What on earth are you doing?” he asked.

The pueo explained about overhearing the people talking about crying, and how he had decided never to cry, and to prevent it he’d hold his eyes open. The ‘io was skeptical.

If he’d been a television personality, he’d probably have asked, “How’s that working for you?” but he was a Hawaiian hawk, so he asked, “How’s it going?”

The pueo admitted that his eyes were feeling drier and drier and it was getting really uncomfortable.

The ‘io sniffed, and flapped his wings about in preparation to take flight again. “I thought owls were supposed to be wise,” he told the pueo. “It seems rather foolish to me.”

And off he soared.

Owls don’t have any teeth, either, or the pueo might have chewed this thought over for a time. He had to think about it instead. In the end, he decided that he’d have to risk the tears. In fact, not crying didn’t sound like great advice for the two humans either.

He chose to be wise.

If I could offer you some advice today, I’d suggest that you be wise, too. Tears keep our eyes moist, but they also keep our souls moist. They help us clear away what’s troubling us inside, and get us ready for the next thing, bad or good.

So let the tears come, and be wise, like the pueo (eventually) was.

Photo Credit: By HarmonyonPlanetEarth – Pueo (Hawaiian Owl)|Saddle Rd | 2013-12-17at18-07-587Uploaded by snowmanradio, CC BY 2.0,

Jesus Wept

Child and Tear croppedAuthor’s note: This poem was written as part of a sermon called “When Jesus Wept” preached on April 2, 2017, at Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i.

Tears, come, and make your muddy traces
In the dust that yet adheres upon the visage
Of the Savior. Tears, come, as dust-caked voice
With muted tones inquires where he’s laid.
Tears, come, to join those springing from the eyes
Of friends most dear and of their comforters.
Tears, come, to stain the face of God.

Tears, come, because they do not understand.
Tears, come, because they fear when they need not.
Tears, come, because a few among them,
In just a little time,
May howl for your death.
Tears, come, because the road was long,
The body weary, spirit drained,
And who on Earth could hold themselves from weeping
In this sad community of tears?

Tears, come, because these are the depths of grief.
Tears, come, because the one you loved is gone.
Tears, come, because the resurrection has not happened yet,
Not the resurrection of the final day,
Nor the resurrection of today.

Tears, come, because we go to stand outside a tomb.
Tears, come, because we comprehend the paths of time.
Tears, come, because the grave of Lazarus,
Though opened, opens yet another tomb,
And they will carry you where you wish not to go.

Tears, come to testify to love.
Tears, come in solidarity with grief.
Tears, come to gather power for
A glorious resurrection.
Tears, come to anoint thee
For betrayal, for the trial,
For the torture, for the death,
For the tomb ahead.

Tears, come to Jesus’ eyes
And bathe his weary cheeks
With love, with grace, with awe.

Photo credit: The image is cropped from a photo by Giorgio Montersino, used by permission under Creative Commons license.