Story: The Suspicious Noio

July 24, 2022

Genesis 18:20-32
Luke 11:1-13
The young noio was hungry pretty much all the time. That’s not all that uncommon for a young noio, of course. He was growing very fast, going from just a little thing at hatching to about the size and weight of an adult in three weeks. At three weeks’ end he weighed six and a half times what he’d weighed when he broke the shell of his egg.
So he ate. A lot.
You and I wouldn’t find his diet very appetizing, but he certainly thrived on it. His parents would fish in the ocean, slurping down the fish and squid into their bellies. Then they’d go back to the nest, where they’d open their beaks and he’d poke his beak into their mouths. And then, well, the food would return.
Yeah, I know. Yuck. I’m glad we don’t do it that way, either.
To the young noio, however, this was how it was done. This was the way to eat. This was tasty (I know, yuck) and nutritious and, more than anything else, it was really successful. I mean. Imagine eating enough in three weeks to grow six times your size. That’s impressive.
It still took some time for the feathers to grow out and for his wing muscles to develop, so he took his first flight when he was six weeks old. The first flight was a little ragged, but he soon got better. He loved being out in the air, and zooming low over the sea, and coming back to the nest.
For some weeks, though, his parents continued to feed him. I know. Yuck. But he had to develop his flying skills before he could develop his food-finding skills. Noio don’t dive into the water to catch food. They fly low over the surface and pluck it from the water.
It turns out that for this young noio, that was a problem. He had no problems with the flying skills. But his first reaction to seeing a school of fish in the water below was… Yuck.
“That’s what we eat,” said mother.
“You have got to be kidding,” said her son. “That’s disgusting. Is there anything else?”
“Well,” she said, “there’s muhe’e (that’s squid). Shall we try those?”
I know. Squid. Yuck. As it happens, the young noio agreed with us.
“That’s even worse!” he said. “I can’t believe I have to spend the rest of my life eating these disgusting things!” He wouldn’t even try to catch one in his beak.
Mother and father both tried to persuade him that he should at least try these things, that they really were tasty, and that he’d been eating them without knowing it since he hatched (I know, yuck), but he was not persuaded. He kept feeding the way he’d always known (yuck) and wouldn’t even consider catching a fish.
While his parents were out fishing for themselves (and for him) and trying to think of something they could do, tutu came by. His grandmother had been very pleased and proud of him, and her daughter had asked her advice. She came right to the point.
“So you think your parents are lying to you?” she asked.
“Lying?” he said.
“So you think they’d offer you bad food when you’re hungry?” she asked.
“Bad food?” he said.
“So you think they don’t know how to show you what is good?” she asked.
He was silent.
“Have they done this before?” she asked.
“No,” he said. “Of course not.”
“Then why would they do it now?”
He said nothing.
“Fly with me,” said tutu noio.
When his parents got back to the nest, they found grandmother and grandson returned from his first successful fishing trip.
“I should have realized you wouldn’t lie to me,” he told them. “Now I know that you didn’t.”
by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

When recorded, I was delivering the story from a memory of this text – which means they’re not the same. It is distinctive, however, for including the coining of the word, “tentacally,” which sadly, isn’t in the prepared text.

Photo of a noio (black noddy) by Eric Anderson.

Returning Tide

June 5, 2022

Genesis 11:1-9
Acts 2:1-21

The opihi – do you know about opihi? They’re a shellfish, a little bit like scallops or clams. Scallops and clams, of course, have two shells and a hinge. They’ve got protection from creatures that like to eat them on top and on the bottom. And when things are safer, they can open up and let the water bring the little bits of seaweed and tiny creatures to them.

An opihi, however, only has one shell. I suppose it’s a little bit like a hat, only it’s a hat that covers the entire creature. An opihi – they’re called limpets in English – finds a spot on the rocks and holds tight as its shell grows over its top. And then it continues to hold tight. It might move a little bit to get to another spot on the rock with more algae, but you and I might not even notice them on the move.

And they don’t talk much. There’s not a lot to talk about, when you’re an opihi.

Here’s the thing: they like to live in the shallows along the shorelines of our islands. In those places, the tides come in, and the tides go out. Sometimes when the tide goes out, an opihi is in a pool of water. But sometimes, it finds itself above the water after it drains away. Sometimes it just sits there in the open air.

A honu pulled itself up on a rock to nap in the sun one day and found an opihi already there. I’m a little surprised it noticed. A honu is a lot bigger than an opihi. But they both have shells, so the honu felt a little bit of sympathy for this opihi, stranded on the rock outside the water.

“Do you need help?” the honu asked. “I see you’re out of the water here.”

The opihi wasn’t used to conversation – there’s not a lot to talk about when you’re an opihi (I may have mentioned that). But finally it found a reply:

“No. I’m fine.”

“Isn’t being out of the water a problem?”

“Well, not so much. If it went on a long time, that would be a problem,” said the opihi.

“How do you know it won’t be a long time?”

The opihi thought about this. “Honestly, I don’t know that it won’t be a long time. I suppose it could be. This isn’t the first time I’ve been left high and dry. Some of those times really did seem pretty long.”

The honu waited. Finally the opihi finished:

“The tide has always come back. I trust the tide more than I trust myself to swim if you swept me off the rock into the water.

“The tide has always been good to me. I’ll hold on here until it returns again.”

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

The story is told from memory of this prepared text – and thus will never be quite the same.

Photo of opihi in Honokanaia, Kahoolawe, Hawaii, by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 us,

So Hard to Believe

13th century manuscript illustration of picking cherries.

“When [Jesus’] mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 1:18b

It’s all very well for me, you know.
He gave the plot away, the evangelist did,
for all his readers to know what Joseph could not:
Mary told the truth.

I feel no gut-wrenched shock, no rising fire,
no heart-destroying grief and pain
to close my mind against the simple fact that
Mary told the truth.

“Hey, Joseph,” I whisper over the centuries,
“What need of angels visiting in dreams
if you could only hold your faith and trust that
Mary told the truth?”

What need, indeed? Except that I rely far more
upon my keen discernment of the world’s
condition. It took Matthew to assure me that
Mary told the truth.

Officiously I do declare that voices often
silenced – women, children, refugees –
should be attended, but: would I have trusted
Mary told the truth?

For love, perhaps. For faith, perhaps.
For trust, perhaps. For God, perhaps.
For obeisance of a cherry, then:
Mary told the truth.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 1:18-25, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Fourth Sunday of Advent.