"True love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone."
- Thomas Merton
Day 170 – Saturday, December 9, 1995 - The days grow shorter. The Sun hangs lower in the daytime sky. The Sunbow 5 walkers stride across northeastern Arizona as Winter Solstice draws near. The deepening darkness, the cold, the lack of finances, and the isolation of the region are all serious matters that the main body of Sunbow walkers must face each day.
Right now there are approximately 35 people in the group. All are healthy, and in fairly good spirits, according to Rita Sebastian, Jacki Gauger, and Joe Soto. The three of them drove way ahead of the walk in Jacki’s Jeep Cherokee to scout the route. They stopped at a gas station in Keam’s Canyon to report on the walk’s progress by placing a collect call to me in New Hampshire.
"We no longer have money to shop in supermarkets for supplies," Jacki said, "but still we are OK for food. So many people have generously donated rice, beans, flour, oatmeal, and peanut butter. We are just eating the supplies that have been gifted to us.”
“We may not always like what we have to eat,” she said, “but no one is going hungry. We are keeping our strength up."
Jacki also mentioned that the Navajo people of the region have been unanimously supportive and encouraging.
Our prayer walk has about eight more weeks to go across the Arizona and California deserts. New people, sensing the approaching end of the walk, are now coming to join. "Tell anyone who is thinking of coming to be prepared," Joe asked. "We’re maxed out."
Joe told me that sometimes people join the walk for a few days or weeks completely unprepared and with empty pockets. “They expect to be fed, sheltered, transported, and entertained,” he said. “When this happens it puts a strain on the resources available to the group. Right now there are no extra resources to share: no extra food, no extra space in the tents, and no extra space in the vehicles for carrying bags. Everyone who comes needs to be ready to work and to contribute.”
Despite the hardships, the group continues to walk 15 to 20 miles every day, to maintain their focus on prayer, to joke, to sing, and to make ceremony.
"We are a real family now," Joe said. "We're poor, but we’re a family just the same."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 171 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire