04 September 2012

John Woolman’s Testimony: Walk the Walk

By Keith Seabridge 
(Dedicated to Interfaith Peace Walks)

My friends, it is about the walk, simple. 
Put on thy walking gear and come along;
discernment will come to those who journey
rather than to those who merely record.
Experience the ground under thy feet.

My own walking shoes are UN-dyed leather
on principle.  I have walked the byways
of fashion, where the dying industry’s
run-off forms the swamps that kill our children.
I walked; I saw the morass; I acted.

I do what I can.  The Journey goes on.
If thee think I speak in symbol—I do.
But that is mere poetry left behind,
Not the pattern of my life I bequeath
to you and all who listen to my words:

 “I have gone forward, not as one traveling
in a road cast up and well prepared,
but as a man walking through a miry place
in which are stones here and there safe to step on,
but so situated that, one step being taken,
time is necessary to see where to step next.”**

Experience gave me the metaphor, but
metaphor cannot give thee experience. 
         Get up and walk the walk! 
Looking back, I gasp at the miles it takes
to be a part of the human race.

I wrote this poem in April 2012 as "Poem #9: Testimony: Walk the Walk,"a gift for the Philadelphia Interfaith Peace Walk.  Today, I revised and posted it at dVerse's "Open Link Night ~ Week 60."

 More of John Woolman's words:  “Having of late traveled often in wet weather through narrow streets in towns and villages, where dirtiness under foot and the scent arising from that filth which more or less infects the air of thickly settled towns, and I, being but weakly, have felt distress both in body and mind with that which is impure. In these journeys I have been where much cloth hath been dyed and sundry times walked over ground where much of their dye-stuffs have drained away. . . . Some who are great carry delicacy to a great height themselves, and yet the real cleanliness is not generally promoted.”                                                                          ~JohnWoolman, Journal*

Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast
Submitted to The First Day
Chosen for book 11/9/2013.

* Quoted in “Walking in the Light” a study guide for Woolman's Journal by Louis Cox and Ruah Wennerfelt. 
**  John Woolman, Journal, ( http://www.jesus.org.uk/vault/library/woolman_journal.pdf ) 105.


Mary said...

I enjoyed these lines from your poem:

Experience gave me the metaphor, but
metaphor cannot give thee experience.
Get up and walk the walk

So very true. We really have to get out there and DO to make it count!

Brian Miller said...

Experience gave me the metaphor, but
metaphor cannot give thee experience.
Get up and walk the walk!

love the expediency and the challenge in those words...talk all you want but your life will give you opportunity to live...if you will...

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

I love the last stanza of this piece--and I had not known who John Woolman was, so looked him up--

Daydreamertoo said...

We can all talk the talk, talk is easy but the real proof of the pudding is in if we can walk the walk which very often needs courage, especially if we are standing alone. Great writing Susan. I also really enjoyed the piece both Brian and Mary have pointed out too.

Unknown said...

'discernment will come to those who journey
rather than to those who merely record'

Such veracity! I know what it is to walk and what it is to merely record and where life lies. A beautiful and inspiring poem Susan!

Anonymous said...

I really like this ~ poets and other writers in Worcester UK will be walking the Malvern Hills and enjoying each others company 21 October ~ how I wish you could be with us :)

There will be many shoes of undyed leather.

Scarlet said...

What a lovely post Susan ~ I like the idea of walking and meeting people, feeling the earth under your feet ~ I hope we continue to walk and take a new journey each day ~


Susan said...

O would I could. Bravo!
I have walked a bit on Fox's path--the Quaker pilgrimage.

Susan said...

. . . and then some of us have walked enough . . .

Susan said...

Great! Thanks for taking that extra step!

Susan said...

I like your point here, Bren. Standing alone is the hardest!

Susan said...

Thank you, Anna.

Susan said...

That is lovely, truly. Thank you.

hedgewitch said...

A great deal of wisdom in this--making the choices and walking the walk all so much harder than blowing words out your pie-hole. Thanks for the introduction to Mr. Woolman, Susan.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love this beautiful poem, reflecting an even more beautiful belief system. Very lovely, also interesting to hear about this man who understood back in the 1700's the effects of pollution. I especially LOVE the two last lines of your poem. SO TRUE!!!!!!

Myrna R. said...

Susan, what a great poem. I love the inspirational aspect of it, and I smiled reading about your new choice of shoes. Thanks for the quotes too.

Nice to be reading you again. I've been away.

Susan said...

Alas, I wear few leather shoes anymore, and those I do are mostly dyed except my favorite Ariat cowboy boots.