Monday, March 25, 2019

written in sand?

a spear point,
from just after the Ice

“it’s not written in stone,”
a way to express transience,
the ephemeral capriciousness
that can be our moments,

a month ago I was working in the garden,
laying down brown paper to hold down future weeds
that would compete with my Native American pumpkins,
I shoveled dirt over the paper,
choosing places to shovel 
where small rocks topped the dirt,
a week later, after rain, 
I was covering the paper with leaves,
and one rock spoke to me
I picked it up, 
and it was a broken spear-point, 
maybe 8000 years old,

a way to touch that long-gone man and his life,

he wrote with stone,
and the stone point faintly echoes of his life,

I love to feel continuity
with something more permanent
than the sand with which we can live our lives.

by Henry H. Walker
March 24, ‘19

Sunday, March 24, 2019

expecting the good

what to expect?

“When I was a student here,
the teachers expected us to be good,
and we had to change their minds to be bad.”

he found other schools he has known
to expect the kids to be bad
and teachers have to be surprised by the good,

this from a student from early 
in the days of Carolina Friends School,
a description of how I see the students still,
like my grandmother, expecting the best,
and that expectation helping the best to release itself.

by Henry H. Walker
March 23, ‘19

rejuvenation vs tiredness

Spring Equinox ’19

before the day starts,
the full Moon slowly sinks into the west,

while, to the east, a bank of clouds
announces it is coming,

throughout the morning grey clouds
interpose themselves between us and blue sky,

at celestial noon the Sun has enough power
to hint of how close it is to making a shadow,

our Sol Pole waits for the Sun to let it speak,
but the clouds hold their hands over its mouth,
we celebrate the Equinox anyway,
as I use my wristwatch to show me what the Sun can’t,
the kids still enjoy the half-vanilla, half-chocolate cookies,

inside, my tomato plants ache to be let out into the garden,

the blueberries are ready to open their blooms,

the sugar snap peas just crest the soil,

rain settles in, the cool damp of the day
mocks the bright warmth I hoped for,
the first of Spring always seems like this to me:
the hope rising form the roots

mocked by the tiredness rising from the soul.

by Henry H. Walker
March 20, ‘19

Monday, March 18, 2019

a joy in the journey

Science Day ‘19

I really like the microscopes,
they who unlock the worlds

where small creatures live full lives,

below our normal notice,
where small worms get sunburn,

I am also drawn to what normal substances can help reveal:
strawberries + water + dishwashing detergent + salt + alcohol,
and DNA is extracted,

exploring how DNA works to program us,

kitchen ingredients combine into fun goo,

and, in other workshops, an expression of how digestion processes food,

and what was food to us when we hunted and gathered,

what reveals itself pierces 
to the heart of what is, 
and how,
and touches why,
baboons and heredity, 

an anesthesiologist and the tricks of the health trade,

the mysteries of revelation through sound

through the physics of inertia and gravity,

plus how to protect ourselves from our own creations,

then also exploring figures not lying but liars figuring,

correlation used to trick us to believe causation,
workshops bring into consciousness what can drive us,

half the school with posters of experiments
in which the students ask the universe a question, 
hypothesize an answer,
then develop and conduct a procedure
to see what the universe answers with experience,

Science Day begins with a keynote
which addresses the power of science
to be true to the universe, and thus to us at our best,

to help us stop short-circuiting ourselves with pointless fear,

so we finish the day with outlandishly clever 
marching bands of advisee groups,

where camaraderie, creativity, and exuberance 
are the means, and the goal,

the universe likes it when we understand,
and likes it even more when we joy in the journey.

by Henry H. Walker
March 15, ‘19

Sunday, March 17, 2019

let us keep Fleming still with us

Fleming Best: she soared!

this bright blue day has a chill to it,
red maple and redbud just wakening into bloom,
the hope of blueberries coiled tightly on the stem
as if ready to spring forth any time now,
as always spring seems torn between
the hope of summer and the despair of winter,

my neighbor, my friend, my former student,
drives down our gravel road and finds me outside
washing dust off our cars,
we parry back and forth with each other
so that we can quickly reconnect,
and then he shares the burdensome news 
he brought down the road with him:
Flaming Best, his classmate, 
my old advisee, friend to all of us,
is gone, found at her place down near the coast,
where someone who cared checked on her,
and she was beyond our care now,

Fleming, a great and noble spirit,
housed in a body that medical science and her will
helped function to endure, to thrive,
despite the spina bifida with which she was born,

her soul was always of love, of caring,
of giving far more back to the world
than the world ever seemed to give to her,

my neighbor friend, 
sharing the news with others in their world,
heard a plaintive cry: 
“What are we going to do?  She was our glue.”

Fleming would make the phone call, 
renew the connection,
plan the get-together,
take care of whomever needed taking care of,

at the heart of Christianity is the call to serve,
to care, to feel for those who need the caring,
and to act upon that feeling, that care,

Fleming made the most of her life.

Despite the weights that pulled at her to keep her down,
Fleming’s spirit soared, and made the world a better place,
for all of us.

with love, from Henry H. Walker
March 17, ‘19

the past calls

the pull of future, and past

a box, labelled 1913,
and as holding golden locks of hair
cut from my three year old mother’s head,

nearby a tie rack her father used,
a thin straight brown branch
with two forked branch sections to hold it up,

a box with cabin plans,
particularly for the “cottage” at Wonderland,
notes carefully pencilled by her father,

all memories saved by my mother,
tucked away in a closet I need to clean out,
for we are finishing a remodel of the kitchen,
recovering space by eliminating storage,
opting for the new and current 
in color and fixture and ease,

I feel the pull of the future, and I am excited,
I feel the pull of the past, and I am sweetly saddened.

by Henry H. Walker
March 8, ‘19

an inner GPS

to know where we are

much of who we are
is based upon knowing where we are,
in space,
in time,
in relationship to the other,
a near constant checking of inner ear and outer reality,

it is as if we need an inner GPS
to make sure we know how and where to walk,
to know where others are coming from,
and where they hope they’re going,

I fear the robber, maybe just outside,
who can steal my sense of where I am in space and time,
and even prevent my knowing it’s gone.

by Henry H. Walker
March 15, ‘19

Monday, March 11, 2019

Parkinson's, the demon

a beautiful man

I know a beautiful man,
one who found himself through music,
through his guitar,
and also through kids, through teaching,
through caring, through seeing what should be,
and making it so,

learning can be a labyrinth,
with many twists and turns,
with so much to obscure the way forward
that a student can dismiss it all,
can find it “boring,”
can feel that others have a lack of belief in them
and let that be determinative 
of who they feel themselves to be,

my friend has found way after way
to make the kids’ journey fun,
so that students trick themselves into working,
and, in the learning, find joy,
and find a path through the trackless to belief in self,

now this beautiful man is beset by a demon we call Parkinson’s,
his whole self still cares for every student,
but now he has a labyrinth between him and them:

damn this disease for taking away
this beautiful man’s gifts of expressing himself
through his guitar and now obscuring his way forward
through his teaching,

his soul is not diminished,
his way out to the world is.

by Henry H. Walker
March 8, ‘19

Sunday, March 3, 2019

everyone has a story

the stories need to be told

everyone has a story,
and each of us needs to tell it,
each of us needs for it to be heard,

we can create a persona for the world
that hides the battles we fight every day
to be, to do,
to hold to the best
while the worst 
works to pull us down,

that best in the other
calls me and I find a way
to hold against the emptiness
that passing time can visit upon our stories,

I pull together loose groups
with enough sharing of time, place, and calling,
so that stories can be told, heard, shared,

each has a story,
we have a story,
the stories need to be told,
the stories needs to be heard,
each “I” needs to be,
the “we” needs to be,
and to grow in the  telling.

by Henry H. Walker
March 3, ‘19

Friday, March 1, 2019

following George Fox

to choose between realities

how daunting it must have been for George Fox
to see a reality all around him,
and a purer reality co-existing with it,
but not really real until we choose,
through faith and action,
to make it so,

as a school, Carolina Friends School works to build a world
in which each student recognizes the light within
and risks the effort to bring it forth,
the effort to deny the doubts,
the sense of the imposter plaguing sureness,

to move from the feeling of being alone, friendless,
and allow the self to feel the foundation beneath
and then release itself to soar,

we can dream of flying,
maybe that’s how the best of us
hopes to call itself into being,

at CFS we work to be more real
than the selfish can create.

by Henry H. Walker
February 26, ‘19