Sunday, February 26, 2017

o brave new technological world

how truly social the media?

I meet with middle school parents
to discuss their kids in school,
the school a world of theirs that I understand enough
to applaud the efforts that move forward
and see the glitches that can hold them back,

what I cannot see clearly, though,
is the technological world that calls to them:
the tools we lump together as social media,
a term accurate enough to glimpse
what phones, apps, and choice allow,
then demand,

I hear of multiple devices around a teenager:
a phone, a computer, messages that throw themselves at her,
many throughout the day,
then, while she’s asleep they accumulate,
and are there to demand their time as soon as she’s awake,
connection after connection with friend after friend
as a collective reality emerges and the group comes together
to plan a summer camp experience,

another student uses his phone as video camera
to create stories, to share stories,
to call for volunteers to act out a film noir he is called to make,

I don’t understand such media well-enough
to know when it truly is social media,
a way for real connection: bonding, building,
and when it is more anti-social: tearing apart connections,
using the illusion of building a group
while tearing a young person away
from the grounding each needs,

a tool has no value just because it can,
a tool has great value
when she, when he, wields it in a way
that is true to what can be,
to what should be.

by Henry H. Walker

February 24, ‘17

Saturday, February 25, 2017

to center the universe upon a student

the parent-teacher conference

every one of us
moves through each day
on a journey that should be
toward a more perfect self,
toward a wholeness that calls to us,

my calling in career is to partner with students
at a school that seeks to know and love the individual,
and then to build the group,
as each reaches upward and outward
to become the best each can be,

today I met with parent after parent
to discuss the journey of the child,
the child that is theirs for a time,
the one who moves through classes and friends
in a decisive odyssey toward a more perfect self,

the journey fraught with challenge, with difficulty,
both the external, as conditions can overwhelm,
and the internal, as decisions might only haltingly
help the process forward,

I love to witness each journey in the conference,
to celebrate the victories, to mourn the defeats,
to center the universe for a time
upon the student,
and upon the journey that calls to them,
and to which each responds.

by Henry H. Walker

February 23, ‘17

the stupidity within our politics

clawing back toward the perfect

in the dark
my eyes close,
and my consciousness retreats into sleep,

the world, so much with me during the day,
drops away and dream holds me under for awhile,

then, as if I need air,
something scared within me 
claws back to the surface,
and I am awake,
and I am anxious,
scared enough to feel the heat
that is fear swallow me,

if I can name the desperate part of me
that refuses forgetful oblivion,
that demands to be felt,
I can often slip back into sleep
since I know the demon’s true name,

last night I felt enough disturbance in the Force
to snap me awake, again and again,
to hold me awake as I named,
as I listed,
the troubles my soul needs to deal with,

we’re each on a long reascension back toward the perfect,
the perfect that was in the beginning,
and into which I hope to return,

this night I think I feared an end time into which
the stupidity of our politics is driving us.

by Henry H. Walker

February 24, ‘17

Thursday, February 16, 2017

who I feel myself to be?

the Renaissance Man

who do I want to be?
a Renaissance Man feels right:
good in as many arenas
as I can imagine parts of my self to shine,
in as many ways
as I can find the wherewithal within
to reflect the Light,
a Light that comes to us
from every direction,
the Omnipresent who can shine 
through us, from us,
each shining true and important, a piece,
the more pieces we hold and express, the better,

the Renaissance Man as full as we can hope to be,
compared to what we hope to be, though,
even such fulness falls far short of the glory
we glimpse when we rise and touch 
the wholeness that calls to us,
we know how impossible it is to answer fully that calling,

on my birthday today, 
one friend called me a Renaissance Man,
while another called me the original Peter Pan,
alive to the child within,
I do hold my Peter Pan within me, 
yet also I live the Wendy 
who holds the other as her self, too,
who grows up and discovers 
she is the monkey in charge of the zoo,

who I am contains multitudes,
my Renaissance Man hopes to live them.

by Henry H. Walker

February 8, ‘17

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

dance with the plants!

midwinter in the piedmont

Groundhog Day has just passed,
outside, freezing cold keeps coming for a visit,
while inside, our ficus, ferns, Christmas cactus, and cyclamen,
leaf and flower as best they can,
outside the first crocus and daffodils 
color a challenge at the pervasive gray,

as does the red shout of the flowering quince,
spring peepers sing with gusto below us,

I have visions of tomatoes and tomatillos a season away,
so I plant my seeds in potting soil,
place them above a heat source,
encase them in an aluminum foiled tent,

I imagine those little dried seeds
swelling up into burgeoning life,
soon to start doubling and redoubling,
a process that in four months or so
can find me in the garden
plucking tomatoes from the vine,
and celebrating what the Earth can give us
if we let ourselves dance the dance
the world of the plants can whirl with us.

A few days pass and the tomato and tomatillo plants are up!

by Henry H. Walker

February 7, then February 11, ‘17

Monday, February 13, 2017

middle school and friends

social gravity

humans need to touch, to be touched,
even those of us on the spectrum
can feel a pull toward the other,
feel a need to be seen,
to be appreciated,
to be loved,

as our middle school day prepares to get started,
I watch the kids come in,
call to each other,
wait for each other,
girls walk an interior circle in the building:
arm in arm, arm around each other,
one plus one becomes two, then three, maybe four,
boys more loosely clump,
but seek out each other to be near,
to move like a loose flock of birds in the air,
proximity but without the touching,

then it’s time to start the school day in a large circle on the floor,
and a social diagram manifests:
a group of five 12 year olds clumps in front of me in a line,
a minute later joined by another clump of the same group,
two lines joined together as if they’re Legos snapped into one,
all around the circle other groups of 5-10
of the same age, the same gender, coalesce,
sometimes a bit of mixing of age, of gender,
various pairs of friends sit together,
two more who they are than five or ten,
sometimes older with younger,
those whom we’ve paired as mentor-mentee,
some sit alone, and some of those
see the groupings and wish such social gravity pulled them in, too,
some sit with a group, though more in a wish to be included
than in a reality that they fit the bonded truth the group feels,

the herd calls us, and can define us,
God help us if we don’t fit the group or the group fit us,
God help us also to balance our individuality
with the group’s definition of who we are.

by Henry H. Walker

February 15, ‘17

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peter Pan, and the realization of self

believe in the student

at the heart,
the most real can reveal itself,
there the student can unleash the power within,
with the right structure and encouragement
each student can release the best 
that aches to be free from debilitating doubt, 
that craves to just be,
vision and choice meet opportunity,
and ability revealed renews the world,

a play can be one scenario 
of this fundamental interaction of self with possibility,
a young person fights off doubts
and becomes the actor who owns the stage,
the artist who creates the stage
or creates the costume and prop that shouts the character,
the designer and the executor of the lights
who help reveal the story, the telling,
the choreographer who knows the language of body with movement
and teaches how what needs to be said is said with the physical,

this winter, when doubt and fear 
discourage the best within us,
I am blessed to work with a director
who believes so much in the kids
that my enormous belief in them 
seems lesser by comparison,
I am blessed to work with an artist,
a set, prop, and costume designer,
who sees the more perfect world 
to which we might go,
and helps students see it, too, 
and find the paths to get there,

at the heart of our school
is a belief in the power
that each person can live
if he, if she, can but find the way 
to live that power,
to refuse to be lesser,
the teacher then mostly a helper
to the learner who can remake the world,

when that of God within is released,
something new is born, something old is reborn,
and we are transformed:
the world is made anew,
and it is right,

I love any school that helps its students
find their way into the power
that should be their birthright,

this mid-winter the play is the thing
that enables many of our kids
to break through to realizing how amazing each is,
and therefore making it so,
individuals click together as if into a jigsaw puzzle,
the whole works,
each individual piece is a vital part of a wonder,
the play is the thing, 
and what a wonderful thing it was.

by Henry H. Walker

February 11, ‘17

Sunday, February 5, 2017

a sundering willfulness

power before wisdom

as we struggle to put one block upon the other,
we work to build connections,
wholenesses we seek in hopes each will perpetuate itself
and counter the sundering willfulness
that works each moment
to knock down the blocks,

our first born son delighted to knock block structures down
months before he delighting in building such a structure,

I fear how much we achieve power
too long before we achieve wisdom.

by Henry H. Walker

February 4, ‘17

how we choose

the cusp, and the turtle

the world divides into two groups of people:
those who swerve to miss a turtle crossing the road,
and those who swerve to hit that turtle,
as written by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath,
often the world presents us with binary choices,
and how we choose says much about each of us,

we drive down an interstate,
see a sign that says:
“Merge left.  Right lane closed ahead.”
you can watch the wheels turn in the drivers’ heads,
or not turn,
most within a mile or two merge left,
and snake slower and slower
toward the section with but one lane,
meanwhile some in the right lane race ahead
and cut sharply in line when they have to,
minutes ahead of where 
their dutiful place in line would have put them,
further slowing down those of us 
following the prompt of the signs,

two roads often diverge,
one at times more selfish than the other,
and I wonder if anything like St. Peter 
is really watching and judging,
I know the better self within us 
whispers what it thinks is right,
at the cusp we either move forward, 
or we don’t,
dissolution at war with creation,
who we see in the mirror, first one,
then a larger one which pushes at the shackles
that deny the many our truest self can contain,
can we see ourselves as God might see us?
the beauty that wants to be,
as the Light might work with us in our lives
to build a better self, a better world?

we should know it’s more blessed 
to give than receive,
yet we have to choose,
that of God within us must weep
when we choose the selfish 
and deny an equality to the other
who is as much us
as the selfish whom our driver can confuse
as our most real self,

the turtle is us,
and it’s time to swerve to preserve
who we are at our deepest.

by Henry H. Walker

February 1, ‘16