Saturday, January 31, 2009

How We Can Be Mindful

We were discussing Howard Gardner's fairly recent book in the C.F.S. Middle School staff room, and the question was asked: "What does Gardner mean by 'mind'?" The poem below is my attempt to answer that question.

Minds Within the Self

the force that through its organizing drives the principle
who drives the feeling
that drives the thought,

we are not such stuff as computers are made on
for while we do compute,
for while we do process,
we are also the programmer,
a programmer who shifts in self
to fit the shifts in what seems right to be, to do,

and we are such stuff as can be
born with ability,
learn to hone those abilities,
learn to expand understanding as we open to the other,
learn to create as we open to that mystery from somewhere outside us
who bubbles forth somehow from within us,
learn to appreciate and respect that which manifests in the other
and finally grow large enough in definition of self
to appreciate the connections across space and time
that hold us true

and give us back what can too easily be lost.

by Henry Walker
January 23, ‘09

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a wholeness can rise

a wholeness rising

out of the darkness can come light,
order can coalesce away from disorder,
the inanimate can, has, and will animate,

all around me I feel I see a wholeness
that seeks to realize itself:
the baby from potential to actual,
the student from lesser to greater,
the artist, the writer--from somewhere
a newness seeks to be born,
doubt can find faith,
the fragment, the whole,

each creation almost gratuitously echoes our origin--

so much depends on the simple complexity of a corn husk doll,
simple materials that something within seemingly casually
works into a pleasing intricacy
and a wholeness is before us,

a waterfall,
a bud,
a stone turned and revealed,
a rightness before us,
a rightness in us,
a rightness from us,

I know we can dissect,
and make lists of instructions,
that we can reduce to mechanism,
the clock within revealed,
and we gain power from that understanding,
but for an autopsy the patient must die,
the flower must be plucked,

instead, I love to reach out to that wholeness rising
and to be as mirror to reflect each soul that twinkles behind the eye,

each piece of the creator who manifests everywhere
if but given the right opening to reveal the wholeness that can rise.

by Henry Walker
January 19, ‘09

Saturday, January 3, 2009

CFS Alumni Dance

exponentially larger

can it be that the light from one
can make the light from the other even brighter?
that a construct can be created
and create itself
with abundant solos, myriad small groupings, whole group unions,
that can all be interlaced with each other
so that each reacts to the other
and builds exponentially larger than just the sum of their addition?

a construct that uses the visual,
the vocal,
the rhythmic, the melodic,
the active, the passive,
the comic, the serious,
the given structure that encourages improvisation,
a controlled whimsy?

the prime choreographer must have had a vision
of how to both release and bind at the same time--
to wrap the audience around the performers
and pull us into the dancers and the dance,
a dozen conversations before the dance seemed to start
and the dancers pull away to the stage,
an hour of virtuosity, fun--

popping corn of action,

there is pulling together,
spinning apart,
acting, reacting,
always connection,

dancer and musician create a magical hour,
ephemeral as a mist dissolved by the sun,
so there for a time,
and then it’s gone,
yet somehow inside I feel changed by it all,
and the dancers return at the end to follow up the conversation,
and keep us connected to the whole,

I work with words
and they at least give me the illusion of enduring,
yet a magnificent dance such as I witnessed today
reminds me how tenuous the shadow of words
compared to the reality they seek to know.

by Henry Walker
January 2, ‘09

Thursday, January 1, 2009

astronomy & family

the crucible of family

in the crucible of a family
each of us can be so close
that the heat of friction and conflict is unavoidable,
our similarities and our differences rub against each other,
and we are drawn to both push the other away
and to hold them tighter,

we can learn to love the other
and to feel a binding together,
despite how annoying each of us can be,

in my family all the parents connected by blood are dead,
and we are blessed with only two of the spouses still present for us,
we cousins seek to keep alive that which connects us
while so much pushes us apart,

at the family Christmas party
it’s easy to just sit and visit with those closest,
I feel eyes brush over me,
judge whether I’m close enough to them to care,
and then it’s a smile, a hug,
or the eyes flit away,

I don’t know how long family can hold
after each dominant body fades away,
and we are no longer pulled from the line of our individual inertia,

we can, like comets, fall back inward toward a common center
at holiday, wedding, and funeral,
and the family of mother, father, child, and grandchild
creates new centers around which to revolve,

while our planet spins on its merry way,
it’s easy to forget all the tugs that hold us where are are,
and how connected we are whether we know it or not,

I choose to know it,
and I open myself to hold all that contributes to who I am.

by Henry H. Walker
December 29, ’08

Sorting & Sisters

Isabel sorts

I am intrigued at how Isabel takes it all in,
the mindful stare she gives to things and people around her,
letting that which is outside come in
to her thoughts
through her eyes
and wander around for awhile
till some kind of critical mass happens
and she gets around
to sorting, to ordering,
to grading,
I notice that after 1-2 seconds of new stimulus
she deliberately turns to it to get it into her processor,
data accumulates
and she learns to organize,

after a few days together, with me careful
to fit my rhythms to hers, and then to vary,
to hold her so that she is comfortable
and what’s around her has interest,
she gives me a gift of taking me in,
her default reaction is openness,
though now she is learning the unfamiliar from the familiar,
and anyone who is stranger
can provoke her into crying,

I love it when she looks at me,
and then smiles,
she has sorted me, and, for now,
I’m in the pleasing pile,

she helps me understand the term “out of sorts,”
for I feel her unease
when someone doesn’t fit into the right sorted category.

by Henry H. Walker
December 30, ’08

Now her sister is as "right" as it gets. . .


first children can be as ice breakers
breaking through the frigid stasis of our parental ignorance--
not matter how much we know,
or think we know,
it’s all new for child and parent alike,

how common it is for the first-born
to have a touch of the driven,
a sense of starring in a one-ring circus,
with so much focus from parent, grandparent, aunt & uncle,
and each child wants to get it right,
to live up to the great expectations showered on them so freely,

I write this as I work to understand our granddaughter Rachel
and who she is for her younger sister Isabel,

Rachel’s heart has always been generous,
at near 4 years old she even freely gave away
her new Christmas candy two days ago,
and I delight in the delight each sister finds in the other,

how much brighter each of their lights can be
because they help each other shine their brightest,

our order in the family does determine part of the hand,
it’s how we choose the game and play the cards
that can deepen a bond or push the other away,

Rachel & Isabel are well on the way to getting it right,
the inclination is good, may it hold . . .

by Henry H. Walker
December 27, ’08