Saturday, October 27, 2018

the tree, the forest, Gaia

Nature’s Holy Book

I love to find myself ignorant,
for then I discover a hole,
and I can fill it with answers to questions 
that have just come to me,
I love to learn,
particularly in areas where I didn’t even realize
I had holes in my understanding,

today I’m wondering
if it might be even better
to embrace my ignorance
and approach some mysteries with a resigned awe,

nature is so far beyond me
that I cannot even really see the trees,
let alone the forest,
Gaia a connected whole we need,
but her holy book cannot yet be translated in full,
just a few lines, enough to shock into awe
anyone who wakes up enough to notice,

how I awoke into awareness,
into consciousness of self and other,
is a mystery like understanding a tree,
each exists,
each is amazing,
and I only glimpse what in creation is going on,

Mary Oliver spoke of valuing mystery,
my wife shared her words,
and I first responded with the scientist within me,
the one who knows there is an answer
and craves to find it,
the person of faith within, elders me,
elders me to seek and appreciate God as the unfathomable,
the best answer to the deepest questions
is the awe the universe deserves.

by Henry H. Walker
October 26, ‘18

Monday, October 22, 2018

the incipient thrusts at its binders

why still teaching?

why am I still teaching?
why does the weight of the burdens
my students feel thrust upon them
not break my spirit when my empathy leaps me to them?
what gives me the energy to be there day after day, for them?
even when impulse and contrariness thwart movement forward?

I really don’t know the answer,
yet I can imagine what might be going on,

somehow I have a gift, 
the gift of seeing the student as whole, intentional,
I see the incipient thrusting at its binders
hoping to break free of diminishment
and finding the power 
that should be its birthright,

our school is structured well enough
that empowerment gains are often within the kids’ grasp,
enough that they are actually able to grasp them,
and thus their victories empower me, too, 
to stay longer as teacher.

by Henry H. Walker
October 19, ‘18

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

immersing in the Source

a disciple of mountains

being in the mountains is first, for me, for me,
a place to shuck off worries and duties and others,
and find myself home,
where I am more the adopted than the birthright child,
the Prodigal Son who loses his way
and finds it again, back where he began,

I also love to be in mountains with kids,
to be guide to their remembering who they are
before their parents,
before their peers,
before the reflections of ourselves 
we call human culture,

I need to immerse in these streams,
in these woods, along these trails, up on these peaks,
so that I can remember the paths,
so that I can then be able to share them,

every immersion is a return to the Source,
I like to serve as guide,
I even more like to serve as disciple.

by Henry H. Walker
October 12, ‘18

to be part of nature

Forest and Sky

the storm we named Michael
comes through here with four inches of rain,
and, as it moves away,
winds roar behind it,
sheeting bands of rain into gray-outs,
and whipping the trees out the south window
like some pom-poms in a frenzy of team enthusiasm,
the power goes out, for somewhere between us and its source,
the lines come down and the system needs a break,

thuds upon the roof,
flurries of jettisoned leaves and cones and bits of branch
give up the air to clutter the ground,
one crash after the power had gone out
turns out to be two big oak branches
who rip our power lines from our house,

as the world around me is drenched and then tested in the wind,
I read along in The Overstory by Richard Powers,
he writes of the story of Patricia Wetherford
as she opens herself to the nonhuman world which is our mother,
as she opens herself to asking questions of nature,
and then to actually hear the answers,
even more extraordinary, 
she then shares the answers with people
who do not want to hear,
who do not want to knows truths
that makes us a part of the whole,
where we are not full in and of ourselves,
certainly not master, despite what Genesis proclaims,

here in the East, forest is triumphant between us and sky,
I wonder about humans and the sky:
the Greeks named the male primal God as Uranus, the heavens,
how much do we clear the trees 
to release ourselves up into the heavens
so that we are dominated?
I suggest that we need the primal female Gaia,
who, with the forest, holds us in her arms,
arms that touch the sky and become one 
with its power, through its power,
we should never choose either sky or woods,
rather, we should live the truth of both.

by Henry H. Walker
October 11, ‘18

Saturday, October 6, 2018

who we need to be

true to what the students need

as a longterm staff member at CFS,
I get asked about changes to the school,
folks who were here years ago
see physical changes: new buildings,
remodeled buildings,
pavement instead of a gravel drive,
and they wonder at the changes,
is the school they knew somehow irrevocably changed?
I often then speak to the continuity I feel
of the heart of our school with those early decades,

I can worry, too, about what is at the heart
of Carolina Friends School, of who we are,
and how change is not always of getting closer to the roots,
that lethargy and the inexorable inertia of the other, the mainstream,
can tempt us away from the radical call
to stay true to the roots of what the learner most needs,
to be true and reinvent ourselves every moment
to be who the students need us to be,

today, my worries went away, for awhile,
as I saw who we have been, who we are,
who we are becoming, at its best,
I told a fellow teacher that she invented the wheel,
for in her dedication to the kids 
and to the substance of what she teaches,
she spearheaded an Hispanic Festival,

CFS Teacher Kelly Yupanqui

Kelly celebrates her native Peru

Colombian Dancers

a celebration of the Americas,
particularly of our southern neighbors
yet also they who are our neighbors down the street,

CFS student with her grandmother from Mexico

she found a way to enlarge herself and our curriculum
in a way new to CFS, yet also true to the heart of who we were,
and true to who we need to become
to celebrate the ever-enlarging community of who we want to be.

by Henry H. Walker
October 5, ‘18

Thursday, October 4, 2018

going on six, and will

the burden of the will

I feel the heavy weight,
the burden he carries,
he sees how the world needs to be,
for he wants it to be that way,
and only if it’s the way he wants is the world right,

the toys must be just so,
and the “just so” changes every moment
as the creator in him manifests,
his parents must be there for him
just the way he feels they should be,
for what he wants is how it should be,
a video game: joy when it goes well,
indignation when it doesn’t,
a call for a science museum trip,
and today he loses the discussion,
though he revisits his desire time after time for hours,
anger at his father for multi-tasking,
talking to us while playing with him,
a physical expression of his anger close to his surface,

it is hard to understand the world as another sees it,
to realize the world can be seen 
as differently shaped from how you see it,
and then to walk forward
in a constant balancing act
between assertiveness and responsiveness,

the will seeks a way to use us as tool,
the challenge is to find a way
that is the best compromise for all
to gain the most and lose the least,
for will to be the tool and not the master.

by Henry H. Walker
September 29, ‘18