Thursday, May 15, 2014

Henry David Thoreau

"Henry David Thoreau" greets our Coming of Age class at Walden Pond.

I was in high school when I read the book, Walden Pond, by Henry David Thoreau. It had a transformative effect on my 16- year old self, my understanding of nature and philosophy, and my relationship to these things. I have always remembered some form of Thoreau's quote about wanting to "live deliberately." Thoreau, I have come to realize, was my first mindfulness teacher.

In talking with some of the parents of our Coming Of Age youth about the Boston Heritage trip, I realized that many of us were deeply affected by Thoreau's writings.

So it was extra exciting to bring our Coming of Age class to Walden Pond in late April 2014. It was the culmination of our Boston Heritage Trip, in many, many ways.

Thoreau was raised Unitarian. His family was very involved in the abolitionist movement. He was a friend and benefactor of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a former Unitarian preacher and a leading voice in the Transcendental movement of the mid 1800s.  I came to realize more fully how the ideas of Transcendentalism are at some of the core values of current Unitarian Universalism.

We were led around Walden Pond and learned about Thoreau via local historian Richard Smith who takes on the role of Thoreau. As Thoreau, Smith shares stories and answers questions about his time period.  While he spoke, he credited our New York UU youth with the "very active upstate" New York abolitionist movement.

Walden Pond is a kettle pond and one of the deepest in Massachusetts.

Traveling along Walden Pond.
A silent walk thru the woods. We were asked to walk silently and observe sights and sounds.

Original site of Thoreau's cabin