Sunday, January 27, 2019

CFS, heads, and calling

rightness, wholeness, calling

a school dares the attempt,
dares to listen, again and again,
to whatever speaks from the still center within,
that somehow can also seek to speak as earlier voices,
all of which seek to express 
the drive for rightness, for wholeness,
inherent within the universe,
and too often blocked, stymied,

the school creates a philosophy
and strives to structure what goes on in and out of classrooms
as working drafts re-envisioned 
as student and philosophy express themselves:

truth is continually revealed,
each of us is unique,
we can come together in community,
spirit infuses us and all life,
each of us can come into our own power,
and change the world, for the better,

today I am gifted with an hour
of the heart, of the mind, of the soul,
of four heads of Carolina Friends School,
speaking with each other of experience and value,

the turbulence and joy of being at the center,
while realizing that each student, that each staff member,
is also the center of the school, of the universe,
that one’s job of being head of school,
at its best, is of helping hold us
to the calling of the philosophy, of the Spirit,
that “the least of these” is central to the good of the whole,

I love the laughs,
I love the stories,
I love how well each has heard, 
and still hears, the calling,
the calling to find the way
so that rightness, so that wholeness, works its way forward,
that each moment can be of celebration of student and community,
finding the power that should be the birthright of all,

a school still dares the attempt,
how wonderful it is to touch the power within the heads of school,
as each feels their feet of clay and reaches to grasp the stars.

by Henry H. Walker
January 26, ‘19

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

CFS: the early years

a school calls itself into being

an idea came from somewhere
into the hearts of members of a Quaker meeting,
Friends who felt the calling of that of God
within themselves, within others,
and then that calling came from the potential of a school
that would shape itself into being,
a school that would be there, for black and white together,
that would become what students need,
that would become what teachers could envision and create,
that could be re-envisioned every year, every day, every moment,
for truth is continually revealed, and obscured,

a school must constantly listen and respond
to the truth of each individual’s journey
and to the truth of the community
inherent in the possibilities
of individuals coming together,

four longterm staff sit together and visit,

sharing their stories of how each came to the school,
of the journey to create space and curriculum
that could unleash the learner’s power,
their drive to be, to become, to imagine:
a pine cone, stripped of its seeds, becomes a shrimp,
and shrimp races are born,
at the playground acorns become money,
mud becomes cookies, play is real:
the fort, the kitchen, the cardboard city,
one student’s special world is shared with the class,
and for two months his world holds theirs,
as story after story comes into being
within the welcoming arms of his newly-envisioned world,

within the storytelling I hear:
the effort of a young school with limited resources,
rescued carpet from a Durham hotel closing down,
better than no carpet, but still a trial,
furniture from the Record Bar going out-of-business, repurposed,
even three coffins used for coats
when closets made way so that two rooms
could be connected to allow family grouping of 7-10 year olds,
a bus service that broke down too often,
buses that were cheap because they weren’t worth much,
wood stove and chill to save on electricity:
staff and students making do,

I hear of administrators who support staff’s risks,
and colleagues who work to make sure
the kids stay central,
that the staff stay true to the cutting edge
where extraneous falls away, 
and the shape within reveals its beauty.

by Henry H. Walker
January 21, ‘19

Monday, January 21, 2019

the stories we live

truths within memory

there is a lag-time I have noticed:
that when a person finally gets around to caring
about the stories a family member tells,
that family member is often gone,
swallowed by the great erasing
death can visit upon us,

I see a parallel in how casual a friendship can be,
each of us safe on the surface,
while below in our depths we fight battles,
often unknown, hidden by our own inner anxieties,

at our school now we have a project
within which we hope to record
reminiscences, memories, the stories each has lived,

as humans we protect ourselves from physical evolution,
our lag time can “protect” us from cultural evolution, though,
our spirit, our culture, should still evolve
back toward a higher consciousness,
when we connect with the other,
and live the truths within memory.

by Henry H. Walker
January 18, ‘19

Monday, January 14, 2019

the short-circuiting of ambivalence

feeling the way forward

at the heart of Quakerism
is both the bright light of revelation
and the short-circuiting of ambivalence:
one person speaks to a truth that seems clear
while those who hear that person have to decide
whether those words are from God
or from a poorly-programmed GPS,

the collective can be of wisdom,
though I have felt the collective
to far too often defer to inaction,
the falling into the trap 
that a lack of consensus 
as to the direction to move
is a consensus to not move,
fearing a sin in commission
and not feeling the sin in omission,

to Quakers, a clerk of a meeting
can have a major role in deliberations,
not just to be a pollster who reads where people are,
but a leader, from behind, who reads where people are,
and helps them realize where they can, and should, go.

by Henry H. Walker
January 11, ‘19

Sunday, January 13, 2019

the struggle to express

see, appreciate, support

nothing we do as teachers,
nothing we do as people,
is more important than to see the other,
to appreciate the other,
to let the other know we get
some portion of the effort
of the life each lives,
some portion of that of God
that each struggles to reveal, to express,

every effort needs to be seen,
needs to be appreciated,
needs to be supported,

we each are alone, 
at least in how we can feel,
we need the other, the friend,
we need the community
to open itself, and thus us,
to how full we all can be.

by Henry H. Walker
January 11, ‘19

Thursday, January 3, 2019

our better selves

Hamilton: the man, the musical, and us

Hamilton undoes me, 
and I haven’t even seen it yet,

on one level, there is a story of a man, a life, a dream,
a story tightly interwoven with the story of our country
finding a sense of self that should live,

this story of mostly men, mostly white,
many of them wigged and fearing fresh air,
is of a world I’ve know within the arid air of history books,
my empathy not strong enough to feel it all in my heart,

how wondrous it is that this world
has come alive with music, song, and dance,
all so much more modern than the times portrayed,
and with performers distinctly different in race from the originals,

what astounds me, what moves me deeply,
is that the Platonic ideal of our country’s birthing
can be brought forth by modern folks
who were not explicitly the ones “created equal”
in terms of the Founders’ words,

we needed the world to wake up
to that better self our better angels envision,
and bring Alexander Hamilton’s reality straight through to us,

Hamilton reveals to us what we can be when the way can open,
what an amazing antidote to the poison infecting politics today!

by Henry H. Walker
December 31, ‘18
images courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Walker Knob

immersed in mountains

a view opens up before us,
as the mountain drops half-angle away,

the Great Fire eliminated most of the trees
who had blocked the view with their own selves,
now the great mountain and his nearly great mountains 
dominate the view and our souls,
meanwhile roots race to uplift shoots unto the sky around our feet,

while pines confidently have sprouted from fire-triggered seeds,
and already start to clutter the way with their knee-high exuberance,
a year or two more and we humans will no longer
find an ease coming up and down the long ridge,
the lower way already a bramble of downed heath branches and trunks,
all tough and intertwined as if designed to thwart our movement,

today was of family, as my wife, sons, and granddaughter
left the comfortable homely house,
crossed the valley to the foot of the great hill,
and found ways up to its top,

later, as day thought about slipping into dusk,
my son, granddaughter, and I brave the bracing creek,

so that we could find ourselves literally immersed in the day,
a day in which earlier we found ourselves 
immersed in hike, climb, and view, and in each other,

Wow. . . what a day!

by Henry H. Walker
December 26, ‘18

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Winter Solstice '18

Winter Solstice ‘18

bands of rain,
bands of sun,
ride the warm air from the Gulf,
just before noon, and just after noon,
sun shadows at the Sol Pole,
but at noon itself tumbling gray clouds block the Sun,

she who just today pauses,
before starting her long six month climb to summer,
as we drive across the piedmont and then into the mountains,
the air cools and the steady rain
threatens to turn into snow,
which it does up-elevation from us,
the phase change an echo of the season change,
winter white just a few degrees and a few hundred feet from us,
water along here usually drips by the road,
today it streams,
and in the valleys the streams are full and loud,

a gray dusk turns into night
just as the Sun pauses,
family travel today so that we can be together,
sister-in-law, niece, tonight,
sons and spouses and grandchildren 
are to wend their way tomorrow
into these mountains and to this family home,
we need to notice time passing
and to feel ourselves fully present,
as yesterday becomes tomorrow,
and today, like every one of us,
needs to be noticed,
needs to be appreciated,
all of us, all of existence, needs to be savored,
for too soon the moment is gone,
for too soon each of us will be gone, too,
at the fulling table I feel the absences
of those who were here, and now aren’t.

by Henry H. Walker
December 21, ‘18