Thursday, December 5, 2019

the spirit, and freedom

the past, and leadings

we seek to glimpse how the world was
17 decades ago in the South,

1st, Stagville Plantation, where one white family
claimed ownership of thousands of acres of land
and near 1000 enslaved people,
an audacious pinnacle of the conceit
lived so fully by our neighboring states
just north and south of us,
we hear of the patriarch taking credit
for the success and wealth built by stolen labor,
unlike North Carolina’s motto,
“to seem” for him trumped “to be,”


Note fingerprints, probably from an enslaved young person

2nd, the Guilford College Woods, near Greensboro,
where Quakers helped enslaved people
find a way out of bondage,
we hear the words and stories of some
who found a way forward to live their faith,
to act upon their hope,
to escape a present that denied the best within them,

3rd, a movie of Harriet Tubman,
who escaped the bondage that beat upon her body and soul,
and then returned to lead her people north, 
into freedom, following “the drinking gourd,”
“Moses” to her chosen people,
feeling as partner to God,
God who wanted to act in the world
but who had to have her help,

our 45 eighth graders were challenged 
to cross those long decades
in their hearts and in their understanding,
for their generation, like every generation,
must find its way through woods 
that can feel pathless,
without a guide:
Harriet Tubman shouts to us,
Levi Coffin’s words pull at us,
the Camerons at Stagville warn us.

by Henry H. Walker
December 4, ‘19

1 comment:

KathyLu said...

Powerfully, heartfully written, Henry. Thank you.