Saturday, November 28, 2020

centered by a table on the porch

 porch table as center

the table on the screened-in porch

has centered our family for four generations,

my parents had a vision of a homely home

hard against the national park

with a porch perched above a dropping creek,

a creek who sings of the dance of water down the mountain

and thus of the magic life knows,

a porch also within the control

of a roof, a floor, a kitchen,

a place where we break bread together

and become more nearly one with our stories

as we share food and soul,

my grandmother loved it here,

much of who I am realized itself here,

our kids and now our grandkids

know this as home,

many others in the family treasure time here, too,

to center self and be one with the kids playing in the creek,

I feel the empty chairs who remember those gone,

I feel the empty chairs ready to welcome any

who find their way back here, or to here,

to live within what Jean’s Dream has wrought.

by Henry H. Walker
November 26, ‘20

each moment a mystery box

 the chalkboard of the past

the land is much like a chalkboard

where the next story erases the story before,

and then it, too, is erased,

I like to attempt the read the smudges from before,

the depression in the land of an old road,

bits of glass and rock and metal

from which flashes of glimpse tantalize me,

I love to watch otters, wolves, elk, bear, herons

live their stories before me,

fragments of movies with no set show times,

and I just have to hope to be there for the screening,

I am intrigued by the paths that somehow led to now

and by the paths before us

with the different futures they might allow,

every moment is a mystery box

that I want to open and hold.

by Henry H. Walker
November 26, ‘20

Friday, November 27, 2020

our four bears

 still choosing their own adventures

I cannot quite get started

to focus my thoughts and feelings,

to decide on a specific “take”

that can give justice to the wonders

the appeared down by the creek a short while ago,

the mother bear and 3 young decided

holly berries would be a good late afternoon snack,

the poor holly knocked toward the ground months ago

and held there by a blown-down tree trunk

as if to serve the berries to the bears,

all 4 of them clambered about and ate for awhile,

I was ready for them to cross the creek

just above the cabin,

where other blown-down tree trunks ease the crossing,

each bear sleek and well-fed,

enough fat on the bones

for them to thrive through winter’s sleep,

my camera works hard and fast to chronicle their story

to reach to hold the sureness and the wholeness

they live with every breath, every moment,

five months ago I first saw the 3 young as small cubs,

more of hope than of sureness,

power radiates from them now,

their personalities much the same then and now:

the dependable mother, alert, teaching by example,

ready to protect if needed,

but also ready to let her young find their way 

while having but a loose rein on them,

the first 2 cubs, Mama’s Kids, 

close to her, playing with each other,

Mother and Cubs, June '20

Mother and Cubs November '20

the third, no longer a runt,

but still holding back

and more into its own world, 

more connected to what’s behind than its siblings,

 periodically needing to scurry toward what’s ahead,

five months ago it stayed behind a bit

and felt lost when the others went away,

I watched it cry out to be found,

and it even approached toward me

as if I might be a refuge,

today it noticed me more than the other cubs did,

and I felt our connection anew,

several times it broke the eye-contact

and raced away to join its siblings,

Runt, June '20

"Runt" November '20

Runt, June '20

"Runt" November '20

there is something about the young

that draws out of us the best within us,

to hope, to appreciate, to believe in a future that holds them well,

I feel privileged for these four bears to have shared

their stories with me twice this year,

I am happy for them to have stories

in which they continue to choose their own adventures,

so far the future has held them well.

by Henry H. Walker
November 25, ‘20

Sunday, November 22, 2020

tempestuous winds

 risk to believe in self

I look into their eyes

where I see both the frightened soul

and the spirit that will not be denied,

even in normal times,

the transition from child,

protected and secure as if in a cocoon,

to young adult, who breaks free

into the tempestuous winds called adolescence,

all of this enough to shake the self to its core,

to challenge sureness and scare hope into doubt,

these are not normal times, 

a scary pandemic and a scary election,

add more buffeting winds to assault the emerging selves,

I am both heartened and dismayed

as I watch our students work to persevere

toward the hope that beckons,

and away from the despair that pulls at them to fear,

to retreat into an inaction

that feels safer but also denies

the success that calls to them,

I hope for them to hold 

to who they have been

and who they can be

if they but risk to believe in themselves.

by Henry H. Walker

November 20, ‘20

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Richard Banh: his art

Centered, With Exquisite Detail

an artist,

a painter,

a lover of pastels,

as he talks and shows me his work,

the incipient artist within me

starts to see what his eye sees,

what his soul knows,

what transcendence his fingers and wholeness

seek to hold within the painting:

two dimensions open into three,

the moment held so that the present

reaches toward the past and the future,

plummets and soars at the same time,

we can live life as if watching a movie,

where individual scenes are subordinate to the story,

moments flash by, impermanent as melting ice,

Richard Banh holds moments

and centers us with the exquisite detail

of light playing upon a landscape,

of a still life, an animal, a portrait,

holding eternity in the moment

loved, seen, understood,

expressed and held

as the artist within him joys

in the making and in the result

of what his talent and effort bring forth,

Richard seeks to hold moment after moment

as he works to help them reach toward permanence.

Richard (Nguyen) Self-Portrait

by Henry H. Walker

November 16, ‘20

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Remembrance, the circle unbroken


whatever life is, it is for sure, profoundly, of relationship,

the drive toward larger wholes,

while the universe breaks down

the complex back into the simple,

rock into sand, the mountain back to the sea,

billions of years ago, though,

from out of swirling chemicals,

the cell came into being

and held against dissolution, 

cell connected to cell,

and the universe tried out plant and animal,

somewhere along the way cause and effect linked up

in the minds working to hold it all together,

consciousness wedded to connection,

pattern asserting itself on the world,

we are creatures of relationship,

we seek to understand and build,

at our best, we know that the other and our self

can become one, a larger whole,

in the middle of a Friends Meeting for Worship,

a meeting devoted to remembrance

of students, staff, and Board

who were with us, and now aren’t,

a woman spoke quietly, earnestly, lovingly, of relationship:

reminding us of the connection of child with child,

child with parent, the web of adults 

working together to build and maintain a school,

despite the dissolution the universe waves at our towers of sand,

the doubt that undermines the hope,

the fear that the center cannot hold,

that we will let down our part in the building

and join in the sundering,

I listened to her,

and I thought about the pictures

of those gone from the physical world,

yet still connected to us in our hearts,

the circle unbroken

for we hold the relationships in our heart, in our soul

by Henry H. Walker
November 2, ‘20

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Mount LeConte and US


The Wholeness Calls

I love to find myself

at the top of mountains,

particularly in the Great Smokies,

here the Sun sets and rises

behind undulating ripples of ridges,

just as it has, seemingly unchanged, for over 10,000 years,

after the Great Ice retreated and humans found this area,

the stone and the forest have been constant,

Spruce-Fir Forest on top of mountain

though blight and logging have worked upon the woods,

the contagion of humans has transformed the valleys

with bulldozer and asphalt, concrete and structures,

up near 6000 feet in a Lodge carefully tucked into the mountain top,

at night human presence twinkles below us,

like fireflies on the ground and in the air looking for each other,

I love to witness sunset and sunrise high on this mountain top

Sunset, Cliff Top

Sunrise, from just beyond shelter cabin

and surrender my self to realities more toward the eternal

than are our politics, and the self-indulgence 

with which we surround ourselves,

as the light fades, or just before it returns,

it can be easy to slip into the world as a waking shadow,

a part of the gray between night and day, one with it,

the flashlight to me shouts of our need to control the world,

to see what is closest to us clearly,

and to let that beyond be forgotten,

ourselves at the center of the lit world,

I use a flashlight when I have to,

I fear the flashlight, though,

for it symbolizes how much we cannot let ourselves

just be still and receptive,

all of us challenged by quiet,

the Sun this morning slowly rose,

and the folks near me gave in to their need

to fill the quiet stillness with words,

just as earlier, the flashlight gave the illusion of control,

for me, a Mt. LeConte sunset and sunrise

remind me of the greatness from which we come,

what many of us feel to be that of God,

what all of us can feel to be the wholeness

we can too easily abandon.

Mt. LeConte, from Gatlinburg Bypass, 11/5/20

by Henry H. Walker
November 5, ‘20