Friday, December 25, 2009

ordering the houses

houses in order

it feels good to get the physical house in order:
clean the corners,
sort the piles
fix what needs fixing,
get your own house in order,

it feels good to get the psychic house in order:
check and clean its corners,
order and process the internal lists,
unplug the processors and then reboot it all
so that glitches can resolve themselves,

for me I need to leave my physical house
and lose myself in God’s woods,
to reconnect with all that is most not me
all that that I feel somehow is that
which is also really who I am.

by Henry Walker
December 22, ‘09

Thursday, December 24, 2009

noticing the change of the seasons

Winter Solstice ’09

as the Sun’s year winds down
a storm flies north over us
full of moisture from the Gulf,
cold air from the Pole
pulls a great snow out of it,

before, all that needs doing at school and home
has also broken upon me in a snow of tasks,
and later a flurry of actions,

it’s often easy in modern America
to find a way to let nature’s cycles be peripheral,
we light away the night,
cool away summer,
heat away winter,
and not even quite notice how short the days are getting,
I do contend, though, that our moods know what’s going on,
for grey days somber us like a filter that hides away
any brightness in the mood,

the last day of Fall
I drive my fully-loaded 19 year-old van
across a whitened landscape, though roads are clear,
as I leave the Piedmont and climb up to the mountain plateau
the bright Sun stays behind
and brooding clouds greet me and hold all across the mountains,
my usual interstate way across these mountains still is blocked
by a landslide months ago when rock & earth reacted to another storm,
as I race north I feel the weight of the foot and a half of snow
beside the road, near half a foot still on the trees,
I thank the engineers who designed and built this interstate
and the workers who have cleared it
as I crest the Appalachian ridge at 3800 feet in elevation
and scurry down and across the great valley of the Tennessee,
the snow disappearing till it reappears around our cabin
huddled at the base of Mt. LeConte,
a few inches on the ground and a light dusting still on the trees,
subtle, accenting the lines of leaf & branch
rather than overwhelming distinctions the way snow measured deep does,

stars and a crescent moon come out to mark the night,
early morning, even before the grey of daylight starts to softly return
I venture down to the creek for my morning soul time,
the white of the snow the first to shape the world around me
and slowy other shapes unveil themselves,
the full creek falling fast,

it’s now almost 9:00 a.m. and the Sun still hasn’t crested
the mountains to the south and east,
though the tops of the trees on the ridge across the way see it,

late morning I set off on an adventure to discover
what will reveal itself in the snowy valley today,

I aim my steps up the valley toward the Sun,

who has been hiding behind the clouds
and chooses this day, of all days, to reappear,
on this, its lowest day of the year,
the mountains before me rise up to make the Sun seem even lower,
I snap picture after picture of tree and creek
decked out in white with the bright eye of the Sun
the jewel at the top of photo after photo,

as I make my way two miles up the valley
the snow deepens from several inches to 5 then to 7,

and I go cross-country where my tracks are the first of my species in days,
though story after story hints of itself in other tracks:
deer, wild turkey, rabbit, probably a coyote,

lower bushes and trees who keep their leaves,
mostly rhododendron and hemlock, one laurel I notice,
bow deep under the weight of the snow
and in their supplicance hold me to a slower way around them,

a tall hemlock, draped with snow, so looks as a Christmas tree,
that I take its picture with the bright sun as the star at its top,

this is the valley I most explore and know,
this Spring,
this Summer,
this Fall
I have wandered these woods
and found flower and view and bear,
now these same woods seem as if at intermission,
the snow speaks of the truth of Winter’s phase of holding, of stasis,
the stream speaks of the truth of the phase of flowing, of change,
the Sun speaks of the truth that he calls the dance
and we do well to follow that lead,

as the day diminishes toward dusk
I find my way to where I can watch the last light today
highlight the whitened mountain at the head of my valley,

tomorrow the days will start to slowly lengthen,
three times the Moon will fill, and it will be Spring,
for now, though, it is time to feel the Winter and celebrate light.

by Henry Walker
December 21, ‘09

a followup to my gifts

may the mandala turn

when the effort of leading with my heart has been long and hard,
it helps me to find time and space
to recognize the wounds and the losses,
to release the tears,
those tears that so much in life demands some kind of payment for,

while it is true that there is much joy
in celebrating how well the glass fills,
we also need the grounding of feeling true to each way
the glass empties, diminishes, when we lose,

we are on the wheel of the mandala,
whether we know it or not,
and we need to let ourselves turn, turn, turn,
the heart literally and metaphorically a muscle that must be used to be healthy,
and when we give in to the exercise of feeling each loss
we ready ourselves to be able to turn
and to feel the joy fully
when there is gain again.

by Henry Walker
December 21, ‘09

Friday, December 18, 2009

Annie's sister-in-law

as the year winds down, there is loss, not only of sunlight, but relationships, health, mood--this is a poem in tribute to CFS dance teacher Annie's close family member, a person assaulted by serious health issues

Kathy Godleski Dwyer

I sit down
and release my own agendas till later,
I start to make the little leaps into understanding
by asking about the facts: names, places, connections,
I look deep into Annie’s eyes
and listen deep to her with my heart, and my head,

and I start to see her,
the third sister, brother Tom’s wife,
Kathy Godleski Dwyer,
she who holds the families together--
the hub of the larger Dwyer connections,
the hub of her family of origin,
the hub of her nuclear family as it grows:
with two daughters, 4 granddaughters, 1 grandson,
nothing more important to her than time with
husband, daughters, grandchildren,
ah, those special first months and years!
yet all the connections are special to her:
no one better at remembering birthdays, favorite foods,
getting you the right gift at the right time,
the one who calls you, the one whom you call,
a Christmas party every year, everyone welcome and treasured,
the family reunion every summer,
the one who holds all the history, who knows all the anecdotes,
the homemaker who seems to be made for turning house into home,
I hear of 9 houses Kathy has transformed into home,
redoing kitchen and yard, finding the right paint,
all the ways to nest so that Tom can come home,
so that her kids can grow up in the home
she feels should be everyone’s birthright,
no wonder her children live so close, stay so close,
wherever her relations move and live
they feel the pull to return to where Kathy calls home,

her connection to her parents-in-law powerful enough
that her mother-in-law considered her as daughter
and that her father-in-law opened-up enough
to describe her as “almost like family,”

the Southerner in me is intrigued by her honest realness
that realness that we here in the South can too easily forget--
as she tells it like it is, letting out the reaction
while still holding true to the connection,
a sharp wit, no pretense, no hidden agenda,
able to laugh heartily at herself,

a deep wisdom as she is close to her own heart and thus to others,

as I see her fuller and fuller,
I see the creator, the gardener who plants, grows, savors,
she who quilts and crochets, to create and then to give away,
she who knows how to make a home,
she who knows how to dress well,
she who knows how to live well and fully,

and, through it all, Kathy and Tom have both been lucky
to have found each other so early
and to have devoted themselves to each other so fully,

I have learned that anyone who has been close to Kathy has been blessed,
and those of us who have not are lesser for that absence.

by Henry Walker
December 16, ‘09

it's the heart. . .

what is my gift?

what is my gift?
the light that is most mine to give,
that gift that can shine
while I use the tools I have within my kit?
my gift is my heart,
the caring within me
that wells up and overflows out of me,

that which powers me to see what I see in my photography,
the twinkle of the eye as the wonder within a person
gives me a flash of itself,
the angle, the moment, the possibility
that lets a waterfall, a sunset, a flower, a mountain
reveal its own heart,
and the possible becomes actual,

it is the caring that powers my teaching
so that I can touch a wholeness who can self-organize
if given space, foundation, encouragement, release,
while it needs so much to resist all
that pulls down at its reaching and that rewards the base,

for now words are my familiar, my agents,
the sous chefs who help me fathom the depths, encompass the breadth,
reach up and back to the source,

how relatively easy it is to know the “how” of action,
it’s the heart that gives the “why,” the “where,” the “when,”
and then the “how” knows what to do--

and there’s a picture, a learner,
and sometimes a poem.

by Henry Walker
December 14, ‘09

Thursday, December 10, 2009

life is the dance

Friends School & Dance

Life As The Dance

a dance performance,
rather performance after performance,
in company with projected words and pictures,
with overarching audio of opinion & song & direction,
a whole with every part a whole in itself,

the vision of each student choreographer suffuses dancer and stage,
within the larger gentle vision of the teacher director,
we in the audience are touched in ways we recognize
and in ways we know but do not know how we know,
in the dance space itself is alive with movement and stasis,

the physical expresses design with body & shape--
shifts to the call of will and entrances each viewer
with how well limitations of shape and gravity
can be the frame within which art can lead us deep, high, & far,

I am daunted when I think of the years
that have been bent to this moment,
the hour upon hour of conditioning, experimentation,
implementation of will upon soul & body,
all the rehearsals so that the spirit and the physical in dance
embody truths that can speak to the heart
in a language more primal, evocative, ascendant
than the languages most of use so readily,
all with precision to detail and presentation
so that nothing distracts us from the fullness of belief,

every moment we have on this Earth is a gift
and we can easily forget how fleeting the moments we are given,

past and future always meet in the present
and with dance we can feel the triumph
of making even the fleeting moments transcendent,
or maybe even particularly so,

in the finale of the dance tonight
the musicians move toward center stage,

pull the dancers and are pulled themselves
into deeper and deeper connection,
and as the movement of the dancers crescendoes
their singing brings us even further along,

in only a few days this manifestation of the dance
will have its last performance,
how expressive these moments are
of how we should live our lives,
how we should create and soar
with every moment we are given.

by Henry H. Walker
December 7, ’09

Sunday, December 6, 2009

what of the future?

Lost & Not Knowing It

the dark doubter who scatters any blocks
who seek to build upon the other,
add different angles together and the base broadens,
a foundation becomes wide enough to hold our reaching-up,

fundamentalism, of any stripe, reduces thought and complexity
across the country and across the world,
I hope for better:
for knowledge to undo ignorance,
for love to undermine hate,
for empathy to open us all into a soul flexibility
that can deny the stasis of an adolescent rigidity
with my group being THE group,
my God the only God,

fear and denial of the stranger,

it is wonderful to have a belief,
a group that works for you,
how arrogant and blasphemous, however, to assume
and to act on that assumption that all others are wrong,

too many I know, and know of,
seem unable to grow and stretch
beyond the know-it-allness of Fox & Falwell,

I despair for our species
whose strength has been intelligence and adaptability,
our country finding one with many,
and now we cannot act unless the answer is “no” and exclusion,
our grandchildren’s grandchildren may pay a high price
for our following those who have lost their way,
and, like a lost person in the woods,
run faster and surer believing that’s the way.

by Henry H. Walker
November 26, ’09

off into nature

Ways to be with the world

the world can be too much with me
when I do not spend enough time within the natural world,
it can get a bit much:
family & work, the logistics of answering all the callings,
from chores to vocation,

I do love to give myself fully
to that dance within which the world & I share the lead,

for weeks now I’ve felt a pull
to disengage from the leading,
to stroll & sit & muse
upon whatever gift the universe will reveal and casually open before me,

along the Blue Ridge Parkway 15 turkeys stop me in the road,

we find a clear view of a red rose sun
who sets behind the main ridge of the Smokies,

just inside the national park
the first elk I’ve ever seen in the East
graze in the dusking light--

one great bull & 9 cows & calves,

in the early evening I find my way outside and down to the creek,
full of itself from recent rains,
Cassiopeia & a quarter moon reveal themselves above
through the newly-bare branches,

I feel expectant--
sure that there are gifts that will open
whenever I take the care to notice,
each gift is not just for me
yet I can feel it to be for me
if I but open myself to revelation,

nature untamed reveals gift after gift
and helps me open myself to grow larger,
and, after recreating,
I can hope my vision and my energy
will be up for the challenge of the dance again,

for now I hear better the underlying rhythms & melodies.

by Henry Walker
November 25, ’09