Friday, May 20, 2022

to take the risk, and to succeed


Arts Eve ‘22

fear wraps around our sense of self:

if people know us for who we really are,

if people see us how we see ourselves,

our surety will dissolve,

we still will write and hold truths

that almost burn in their power,

yet it is hard to trust an audience

to not abuse us in our revealed vulnerability,

a picture, like a mirror, can defy our hope

that we look as good as we hope we do,

so we deny that sharing, too,

tonight middle school artists allowed the sharing

of what they had made with their hearts, hands, vision,

they also shared their dance,

their being so in their own bodies

that they could live in and express the choreographed vision,

as part of a team, a cooperative wholeness within which

they could deny self-doubt and let themselves be full, 

and then larger, as dancers built with self and with each other,

and then it’s the play, Shakespeare,

A Midsummer Night’s Dream,

rewritten by the actors to work within time allowed,

and for themselves, and for the audience,

each student finding this as vehicle

to carry them past debilitating self-doubt

into daring to be, to do, to risk,

and to get the reward of creating a wholeness

that allowed each to be seen,

each to be appreciated,

each to be successful,

self-doubt still has its power

but I love it when the self will not be denied,

when the creations are lovingly shared on table and stands,

when the shy smile blooms on the face after a compliment,

when the risk is taken and rewarded by audience.

by Henry H. Walker

May 19, ‘22

Saturday, May 14, 2022

the power of the social

 the self, and the other

a student writes of making it through

challenge after challenge, of feeling good 

about how well she dealt with the pandemic,

but now, as we are coming out of that gauntlet,

she feels anxiousness close to the surface,

the battle not over, just waged on different fields,

others write of friendships storm-tossed, losses,

after the storm passes in the night,

morning comes with new friends,

plus an absence of connections once vital,

adolescence can always shake the surety out of anyone,

add a pandemic with the care for the body

superseding the care for the psyche,

social distancing and Zoom to protect the body

while the soul could get lost,

students lament times of losing themselves,

of losing who they are, where they are,

of feeling lost, abandoned, unconnected,

now that we are back in person,

now that face masks and distancing are optional,

middle school students are drawn to friends, 

like bees to flowers,

so needing the touch of another

that they wrap themselves physically around their friends,

young river otters, like many mammals, do the same

and find themselves physically with the close other,

our middle school community for two years 

has denied itself a school dance,

physical safety the prime directive,

tonight the psychic safety is the prime directive,

and student after student makes their way to the dance,

feeling found again, both to themselves and to others,

our species needs others

so that we can know and embrace ourselves,

for if someone we care about, 

cares about us enough to connect with us,

maybe we can reduce the volume of the self-doubting voices,

maybe then we can find joy in who we can be together,

maybe we can realize that we like ourselves

since those we care about show us they like us,

at the heart of who we are as humans

is a desire to assert,

plus a fear that we are but imposter,

we have the ability to live well

if given the chance and the support

to know that we can.

by Henry H. Walker

May 13, ‘22

Saturday, May 7, 2022

administrator, teacher, student


staying true to the roots

a school: 

a community,

a family,

not a machine

with interchangeable parts,

all readily blueprinted

with clear exact job descriptions,

easy to dissect and describe,

rather a school should be born anew every moment,

as students learn to be themselves,

and teachers do, too,

a sacred fire kindled in each learner 

who finds each way forward,

yet a school does have clear responsibilities:

leadership to guide us through

the ordinary challenges 

of matching needs and capabilities of staff and students,

through the extraordinary challenge 

of a pandemic when procedures have to evolve fast,

while still being so radical as to keep true to the roots,

the best leaders center heart and soul upon the students,

and work to find the fittest structures

to help learning survive and thrive,

like child to parent, we only glimpse the enormous effort

a head teacher, a head of school, the support staff,

can give to allow every classroom bubble to exist,

every relationship of student to teacher,

of student to the ways forward,

I feel the gift of being at a school

where teacher and administrator alike

see the students and their needs as central,

education grounded in the individual

and in the individual becoming more,

the self expands with enlarging circles of friends,

with enlarging circles of possibilities

of how one can find and express assertion and responsiveness,

each self stumbles forward as best it can,

to be born anew each moment,

I love to be in the classroom,

to witness and help each student find their way forward,

I could thank my lucky stars,

but it is far more accurate 

to thank all the administrators and support staff

that allow the classroom to exist

and to become as good as it can be,

remaking itself every moment.

by Henry H. Walker

May 6, ‘22

Sunday, May 1, 2022

the first treasurer of CFS


Bill Chappell, the Reverend William Chappell

a life well and truly lived,

a man who knew himself

and who knew his God,

a man who made the world around him so much better

that young people at Carolina Friends School were drawn to him,

to his infectious laugh,

to his twinkling eyes,

to his seeing and feeling connection,

before you realized you were devoted to being with him,

Bill loved to laugh, to tell a good story,

he became treasurer of C.F.S. early in our history,

the principal promising him it was a simple job,

that he could tell Bill about it all in an hour,

decades later Bill laughed and lamented

he was still waiting for that hour,

before the books, came the people,

before the adults, came the children,

he came to school and finance from the ministry,

the Gospel a living reality:

the children close to the Kingdom of Heaven,

the Sermon on the Mount, a memo on how to live each day,

Bill joyed in his beloved Duke football and basketball,

we would go over to his house 

to watch games and cheer on the Blues,

for his 65th birthday we got him a basketball

signed by all the Duke team,

the school first found his wife Hilda,

whose competence and organization 

held the school together the early years,

and she found us Bill,

their partnership deep and enduring, 

with two fine sons,

his eyesight slowly failed him,

but his spirit never did,

any of us who knew Bill are better

for the time God allowed us with this extraordinary man.

by Henry H. Walker

April 28, ‘22

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

mangoes don't fall far from the tree

 of father, and daughter

apples may not fall far from the tree,

seems to me, mangoes don’t either,

in the heart of Barbados

a man lived his life,

with full attention

to the centering and grounding of place,

his beloved island home,

the way beauty, and tragedy, and enduring hope,

could allow him and his other half

to build and maintain a home

where children could be allowed,

even demanded, to be their best selves,

to realize their ignorance and remedy it with learning,

I never met Trevor Howard,

but I know him through the mango

with whom I work,

a daughter devoted to learning and others,

one who makes it her life’s work

to see middle schoolers, to know them,

to help us all find how best to support them

in their efforts to break through 

the crusts that try to hold them back,

she who honors her father

in devotion to the next generation,

to the joy that learning well and truly

gifts to any who can find the way forward,

I love how much I can know and honor the father

by seeing his light shine

in the fire he worked to kindle in his daughter,

she who maintains that blaze well.

by Henry H. Walker

April 25, ‘22

Monday, April 18, 2022

another effect of the pandemic


calluses gone

the pandemic reduces emotional flexibility,

something touches me, 

and my tears are even more ready to flow,

my anger, my joy, close to the surface,

I feel both tired and energized,

somehow the calluses,

 that can deny my noticing the moment,

seem to be ripped away,

I can more clearly see my students,

know them, hear them, speak to them,

and what I hear in the adolescents’ words

often shakes me with its power,

everyone of us can feel as if alone in a trackless wood,

as a teacher, I feel the gift 

of being also in that wood with my students 

who dare to be themselves,

neither they, nor I, am so alone

when we share the reaching toward the Light,

how can we feel alone when we are together,

if only for moments?

by Henry H. Walker

April 15, ‘22

Sunday, April 17, 2022

making the house one

 Upstairs, and Downstairs

I wonder at my unconscious

working, through dreaming, in the night,

when I can remember,

I feel the fears

of being lost, 

of having lost something,

of being in conflict,

I can also feel the joyous effort

of building against dissolution,

block upon block upon block,

my consciousness is of the upstairs,

and I wonder how much who I am

comes from the work of the downstairs,

the house should be one,

yet easily splits into two.

by Henry H. Walker

April 15, ‘22