Friday, December 26, 2008

a great awakening

furious contemplation

when she was new to the world
I felt the power of the long dreaming
pull her back away from consciousness,

now that she’s half a year upon the world
I feel the power of a great awakening
pull her out into
intense thought,
furious contemplation,

the last few nights she’s been fussier
as she has resisted sleep
and thus missing people & experience
that are as food to her soul now,

she wants to know, to understand,
and she doesn’t want to miss anything,

so she comes back from proffered sleep
ready for any new act the world will play for her,

and, when she sees one of us for whom she’s ready,
increasingly she feels a rightness and releases a smile,
and we are even more undone,
as she comes even closer to realizing it all.

by Henry H. Walker
December 24, ’08

a counter-revolution within the Internet

the collaborative self

what motivates us--
to choose?
to work?
to apply the gifts of ourselves
to be just what the world has been wanting?

perhaps competition?
competition defined as being better than another?
the self as individual and its desire the mundane
of what feels rich and good at the moment?

I think, though, we sell ourselves short
when we stop at the zero-sum of games,
when we equate worth with wealth,
prestige with product,

I am intrigued by a counter-revolution within the Internet
where people work & create & freely share sections of enabling code,
tools created and offered in a corporate search for what works,
shared footholds for the climb up
where somehow being best as individuals
can enable us to be best together,
as many hands lighten the lifting
and we can feel good as part of a whole
moving forward and upward
without stopping it all to say “me.”

by Henry H. Walker
December 24, ’08

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the intensity of her gaze

Isabel at Six Months

she’s doubled the days of her life
since I’ve last seen her,
and I almost do a double-take
at how transformed she appears,
it’s like pieces of puzzling shape
that click into order somewhere within
and you know the ambiguous as clear,
the shape both familiar and never seen before,

so much of her behind the eyes
coming into focus for her, too,
and she’s an explorer in a new land
and there’s wonder all around her--

I describe the intensity within her face as




I feel the power of her considering,
and I hope that after she sees me true
she will smile,
for I feel the power of her head and heart,
and I want to be found worthy
of being a part of her world.

by Henry H. Walker
December 21, ’08

Abby's grandmother passes

June Hilma Lindberg Koebensky Ramponi

a life that stretched
from her birth at the Summer Solstice of 1914
to her passing away at the Winter Solstice of 2008,

growing up and living her life
where the heart of the country reaches toward Canada,
where the land is rich with potential for farm and mine,
where the Father of Waters births,

there in the Iron Range where industry found substance
to give form to builders’ dreams,
and life was both hard and rewarding,

Scandinavians of country after country were drawn there:
June’s roots reaching back into Finland
though the present and the future were more important to her
than the past,

June was a matriarch yet she would lie low,
she would feel the power of her connections
yet defer so much to others
and seek to serve and not be a bother,

nevertheless, consider her will
and how stubborn she was to endure,
losing the great love of her life,
and then the next great love,
and losing what no parent should have to lose,
a son who passed on before her,

and she continued on, delighting in her daughter and her family,
and moving four hours south to live near them
and also near her sisters and son,

her independence, her will, her stubbornness so strong
that she had her own apartment till the end,
and relied only on some help to do
what she could no longer do by herself,
trips to the grocery store, the doctor’s,
even near the end she still lived by herself,
with family checking in every day,
two days before she died
she still checked ads in the paper
and made a grocery list for her granddaughter
so that when she came home from the hospital
she’d have the yogurt and all she wanted in her apartment,

she never wanted anyone to worry about her,
to go to any trouble,
so sweet, so loving, so caring--
she was stoic, in the best sense of what that can mean,
“it could be better, it could be worse,”

and when it no longer “could be”
she released herself,

though she preferred to not be noticed
how right it is to notice and appreciate
the quiet power of the life of
June Hilma Lindberg Koebensky Ramponi.

by Henry H. Walker
December 22, ’08

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the act of opening out

the doing, the receiving

the cloud above awes me
and I want to send it a thank-you note. . .

I define myself so much in the doing--
what I touch with my fingers, my words,
my decisions, whether commission or omission,
the vision I have of what is
and how to support what it can release
to be even better,

I feel good about the bulbs I planted 6 weeks ago
that are now rooting themselves in the earth
to release themselves in the spring,

I love my students
and I love to help them release themselves as their best,

I love my family--
I seek to appreciate every moment
of the child becoming his and her self,
and I want to appreciate and understand the gift of themselves
every ancestor gave to their present, to the future, and to the past,

and still I am drawn
to just appreciate the beauty God releases,
seemingly gratuitously,
if we but stop and notice,
I seek to act
yet perhaps my most important action is
but to open myself to receive.

by Henry Walker
December 19, ‘08

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Solstice '09

waxing within the waning

how much are we seasonally affected?

as night lengthens--
as cold deepens--
as clouds come in and just hold--
so much comes due to be done:

our classes at school near a finish line,
though it’s more a lap in a relay
as we will pass the batons off to our January selves,

we’ll have a week or two
for the fallow and hallow of holiday,
and all the subsequent recombining with family and friends,
Sun & Earth will pause and bow to each other
before the Sun starts to lead again,

we will also celebrate the birth of that Son
who calls us to release the light of God within
to witness a true path toward
framed by the darkness of the common path away,

there is a weight upon my psyche--
springs that strongly feel both wound too tight to release smoothly
and released too much to power anything still,
it’s like right before sleep
when it feels too much to hold a thought,
let alone to connect one to the other,
I feel on edge,
ready to slip into tear when I but touch intensity,
ready to slip into laugh at any excuse,

and when I feel upcoming release--
eating what I want,
just being with my grandchildren,
I feel undeserving of such self-indulgence,

how difficult it is to be a caregiver
who also knows how to give care back to self,

as December wanes we need to wax
and celebrate the light within
that will grow more and more to shine without.

by Henry Walker
December 17, ‘08

Monday, December 15, 2008

the "to do" list

the best I can

the “to do” list is always there,
and item after item
adds itself as needing doing,
sometimes leaping over others to get quicker notice,

I get to what I can,
and I feel good when I cross off one as done,
and less when I notice the ones that wait and wait for me,
though the goad does focus my reasons to be here,

what’s hardest is to glory in the tension
and know the rightness of holding seeming contradiction
as the best we can hope for--

at the same time to feel good about what’s been answered
and challenged by the call that awaits the response,

to miss and treasure what is past our touch,
to anticipate and treasure what the future is bringing,
and still to live in the moment that realizes
that the present is the only actual manifestation
of either past or future
that we can truly know,

likewise, I contain multitudes
and somehow all of them manifest,
and I am new
and I am old,
and the present births the best it can.

by Henry Walker
December 12, ‘08

Friday, December 12, 2008

CFS Dance

to the dancers

how can mere words express dance?
summarize an experience that is within more than four dimensions?

for space & time in dance are imbued
with feeling, thought, and physical virtuosity,
all within the dynamic of execution within a vision,
of the individual’s release of focus and effort
while in relationship to music, to the choreographer,
to the fellows sharing the dance,
to gravity itself,
to the exultation of a language I love to hear
but that is beyond what I can translate,

and beyond what my aging body can hope to even faintly echo,

my spirit, however, soars as it holds, shapes,
leaps with each dancer,
and within the dance itself,

the kid in me joys in the dance,
as does the wise one within
who gets the wisdom beyond their years
expressed in the students’ vision
and the power of its expression,

how wonderful it is to know the child,
the young person, and the adult,
each who can be within us all the time
and who can be released to express themselves
as the spirit can move us,
and the body can respond.

by Henry Walker
December 9, ‘08

Saturday, December 6, 2008

family's place

family’s place

we’re born,
someone takes care of us,
and we come to know parent and sibling,
an island after we come out of the sea,

a grandparent, if we’re lucky,
can catch our eyes
and down that tunnel so much flows
beyond what we can yet know,
and often what we do notice is overwhelming love,
I still feel supported and challenged to be my best
by the soft arms and bright eyes of Grandmother,

what is hard to get my mind around
is Grandmother as a grandchild,
let alone the sureness of the countless such leaps
as far back as humans are,
and then, if I dare, the chancy hoped-for future
as link after link forges anew,

how much do we feel the connection with
cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews?
feel it as real and important that we share blood, share ties?
our sense of self enlarged enough to appreciate
a family reunion, the pictures/charts/stories of genealogy?

I’ve seen the glazed eyes, the backs of those who leave early,
the absence of those who can’t fit us into the time,

I, too, have lived a lack of attention when I only stirred myself late
to then realize the person I seek for connection has died,

fortunately, or unfortunately, genes do their job
and traits are passed down without us putting in a specific order,
fortunately, or unfortunately, parenting does its job
and lessons are taught, and something is often learned,
fortunately, or unfortunately, each of us chooses all the time
and sometimes we can take it all
and honor the best of the possibilities within us
and of the possibilities before us,

each day we live is wealth we’re allowed to spend,
and we do well to honor our debt to the past
and our debt to the future,
as we seek to spend each moment wisely,

I often stand at the grave of someone I’ve loved
and pray that I can honor them with the substance of my life,

in the line of all to whom we can feel so indebted,
from whom we can learn to much,
family has an honored place often right at the front,

may we appreciate the best of who has come before
and give thanks with words, and action,
and the giving our ourselves to strain true
as bridge from past to future,
a bridge that knows the passing moments
as the process we live, worth much in themselves,
and worth so much more
as we look back, forward, and around, all at the same time,
and with enthusiasm.

by Henry Walker
November 28, ‘08

to reflect majesty

to reflect & define majesty

the outside always pulls at me,
every window draws my eye,
I feel adventure
outside the room--
away from the people,

I have a favorite spot up in the mountains
where our yard’s boundaries
dissolve into forest and national park,
where the inconstant constancy of the creek
mutters a lullaby,
bear have walked by,
and I swear once it was a wolf,

more and more these last years I’ve looked up into the trees
and read meaning when something within and below me
resonates with something without and above,

just a few weeks ago autumn’s exuberance awed me,

tonight the stars draw me through the baring branches,
I open myself to the outside
and wait for that inside
to know itself more truly,

we can do far worse than feel ourselves a mirror
in which a hint of majesty can reflect and define.

by Henry Walker
November 26, ‘08

teaching as "calling"

teaching as “calling”

I love the idea of a “calling,”

moments ago I wrote of feeling a call to be outside
and how often I give in to that pull,

there’s something different, though,
about feeling the pull to serve that greater
with the substance, the hours, of one’s work,
to feeling that I am “called” to kids, to education,
to feeling my pain and my joy,
and using them and my care to connect with student after student,

and, when this works,
I can be as enabler of the best that is within them
to find its way to reveal itself in action,
and in that revelation of self within effort
each can hear and answer a calling to appreciate themselves,
to let those selves write large and true upon the paper of the world,
and to create line, color, and power upon the canvas of their being,

tomorrow is Thanksgiving,
tonight I feel thankful beyond words
for how often I can be there, true, for my students,

I joy every time each reveals and creates a best,
and in this Friends school we are blessed
that such revelation is so common.

by Henry Walker
November 26, ‘08

Fall Leaves, the Smokies

Fall’s Messages

I love a day so clear
that the Smoky Mountains
leap right back at you,
with each line of their attitude distinct
and every view seeming closer
as if my eyes were young again
and I can know what I see
and not have to guess,
as I have to do in high Summer
when drifting cloud and mist,
and even just the lazy hazy blur
of air stuffed with water,
soften all shapes,

high up, the trees are mostly bare
and what leaves are left are mostly brown and crinkled,

just down the mountain the brown is suffused with a brooding red,

and below that banking the leaves of the trees
can sometimes still remember the impressionists
in brilliant suffusions of yellow and gold
and the blush within the red of a maple,

deep in the valley at the cabin
the beech is at the peak of its fall,
as I look up into its branches
I am overcome with their exuberance,
in the creek yellow and golden maple and poplar leaves abound
as if they’re flower petals
strewn about in celebration of something significant,

beneath the green these colors hid themselves
over the long growing season,
and they only reveal themselves for a few days
until they fade into oak brown
and forget themselves as the brown earth draws them
and then hungry roots recycle them back into new growth,

fall seems a time to get to basics
and understand the structure that underlies the forest,
for a while it is a time of bounty
and the bears fatten so they can last to spring,
and we feast at Thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest,
and to echo the bears who know lean times come,
and spirit and body need to know both the passing bounty
and the underlying structure that knows the passing,
and readies for the Spring that surely will come.

by Henry H. Walker
November 6, ‘08

Curtain Call for the Leaves

if we’re lucky,
time flutters down and away
like Autumn’s wind-dropped leaves,
who twist and spiral
in one last fleeting flare of individuality
within a grand corporate dance
through which I meander and marvel,

they drop and hold their repose
as they wait for the curtain,

on the ground each of their points
softly blurs one into the other,
a palette that glows with vibrant color
as if each realizes it’s the curtain call
and soon they’ll fade back and away from our notice--

the glow of the light will dim
and earth-brown will claim them.

by Henry H. Walker
November 8, ‘08

The Jump Off

Jump Off & Find Yourself

I sit high on Mt. Kephart
with a magnificent craggy-rimmed valley below me,
the only major valley I know of here
with no trail climbing out of it,
the slopes so steep and challenging
that the loggers never got into its rocky reaches,
despite how fully they cut on the gentler-sloped valleys
just over the main Appalachian ridge,
in the far distance human sign mosses over the world
and hides beneath a polluted haze,

I need such time, such experience, alone,
alone save for rock & plant & the one junco who just pipes by,
I love people but I need to clear myself
with the purging tonic of a hard hike
into a nature free from any taming but the trail,

only a receptive silence seems appropriate,
an openness to stillness
and to the ironic potential of being shaken,
quaking with a glory that fills us
if we’re open to realizing it,

I particularly love where Earth’s restlessness throws up mountains,
her fiery inner world creates and shapes the rocks,
even those the sea pressed back into shape,
like the silt stone I’m sitting on,
layer upon layer of silt hardened into stone by the sea,
then thrust into a near perfect vertical
in a long fit of plate upon plate,
and an even longer shaping by weather
and the opportunistic sheathing by the suncatchers,

I extend myself further and further,
and I’m glad I know that I need to withdraw from time to time,
so that I can feel more clear
as to the source that powers me at my best.

by Henry H. Walker
November 7, ‘08

I love bears

Grin and Bear It

I love bears,
I feel a kinship, as up here,
they are the closest species to ours,

I’ve watched and searched for days--
at the top of the mountains, at the bottom of the mountain,
today I hike and explore all along the long valley
that snakes along with the leaf-strewn creek,
no sightings,
just a few sign where they’ve ambled and foraged,
tomorrow I leave, so I drive up and down the valley again, looking,
and suddenly there’s a sleek, big black bear
ambling down the trail near the road,
I drive ahead, park, ready my camera,
and snap picture after picture
as he hoves into view
and crosses a small footbridge over a branch,

he hears my camera,
pauses, looks,
takes a few steps more,
pauses, looks,
continues on,

I drive 1/4 mile ahead, park,and hike up the trail
to where I think he’ll come since he’s been favoring the easy path,

I wait and look up the long straight section of trail I’ve chosen,
and there he comes! straight at me!
I snap picture after picture of him aimed right at me,
not like the shots of rear ends so common for me with wildlife,
my heart beats faster and faster
for I’ve chosen a spot for the quality of the potential shots
and not for the quality of my retreat routes,
I don’t want my last amazing shot as he approaches too close
to literally be my last shot,

he hears the camera, figures I’m ahead,
goes off to the side,
pauses to wait me out,
and, when I’m still there he drops down the steep bank to the creek,
crosses it and finds a new adventure
since I’ve messed-up his planned stroll,

I take a few more distant photos and then lose him,
dusk is coming fast,
I await him for awhile near a way bears often use,
and I’m gifted with an antlered buck as a consolation prize,

I still feel exhilarated,
so happy that my life and the bear’s intersected
for time enough to thrill me
and to feel so very right.

by Henry H. Walker
November 8, ‘08

we reset with Obama

we reset with Obama

when that fabulous tool, the computer,
gets all glitched-up
and acts as if it can’t be fixed,
it can sometimes work to turn it off,
and then turn it back on,
in the resetting it can remember itself
and get back to its basic mission,

yesterday our country hit the reset button
and chose hope over hate,
love over fear,
inclusiveness over distrust of the other,
increasing possibilities over fighting each other
for the scraps of what’s left,
ideals trumping selfishness,

we chose to embrace the other
who makes us larger
over hating our differences
which make us smaller,

we remembered we should be there for the least of these . . .

we are the long-lost children
of they who first got it that one cell is but a step
to multi-cells working together,

we deny and forget our connections at our peril,

Barack Obama calls us back to the basics,
whose radical agenda is of life itself
and its sister hope.

by Henry H. Walker
November 5, ‘08