Avian Angelus on Treetops

I have always wanted to write about this miracle each afternoon on Maile Way, on Moore, on East-West Road, and on the trees near the Catholic Church on Newman Center. The chirping of the birds is one of roosting, and the joy in the birdsongs captures that nameless joy I feel when the vision of going home and be with my family becomes concrete.

I took a long walk this afternoon, the first in a long while. The Nakem Centennial Conference took all of my time during the last two months and I never gave myself a break, not for an instant, pushing myself harder and harder each day, sitting before my computer, working on the conference programs, editing manuscripts, and coordinating many of the details that we cannot leave to fate.

So this afternoon, I made good with my promise to myself: to walk the walk one more time, to the hills in the north, to the foot of the mountains in the east, to the trails with no trailblazers. I changed from the usual work wear to walking shorts and put on my sturdy Nike that had seen all of my immigrant years in America.

Now I run down the steps from my fourth floor office, look at the mountainside awash with the orange glow of the late afternoon Waikiki sun, take a deep breath and turn on Maile Way towards St Francis School, towards the heart of the Manoa Valley now filled with houses and market stalls and Starbucks and McDonald's. This is fastfood nation and I remind myself this.

The orange sun turns reddish and the vegetation takes on a rich verdant hue: green as in the color of moss, as in the color of the earth that welcomes all the blessings from the heavens, the earth that gives all the harvest of fruits and hopes that we need.

It is the Day of Thanksgiving, I tell myself. You count your blessings. No sad tunes, I say.

So I look at the music of leaves, the lyrics in the gardenia coming into a bloom, the tunes hidden in the blades of wild grass dotting the sides of a less traveled path I take.

The late hours come so fast. The afternoon becomes purple so I head back to the Manoa campus whose lay in the vast valley I have yet to memorize after months of having stayed here day in and day out.

I take the East-West Road and right on the dot, the bridsongs fill my heart.

No sad songs at this hour, I tell myself, even if you feel so damn alone on this day of thanksgiving.

I linger on the shade of the trees and listen some more to the gaiety around me, the gladness and robust happiness from the branches of trees moving and shaking and delirious with life and the lithe limbs of birds hopping, jumping, flying, perching, roosting.

Roosting, I tell myself. This is their song for roosting, for homing, for coming back home after a day's work. It is their angelus, their recognition of the endless power of the universe, the eternity of life. This is benediction, I tell myself one more time, and the benediction of birds.

I close my eyes. I see my children. I am roosting.

I pray I will have this grace.

The night turns from deep purple and then to dark and I walk back to Spalding, up the fourth floor to imagine this magic moment and to write this piece.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Nov 23/06

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