"We are messengers. We are carrying messages. We become very humble on the walk. We don't expect anything, but when food, or shelter, or other blessings come our way we are very appreciative."
- Rita Sebastian
Day 30 - Saturday, July 22, 1995 - Another 20 miles passed under the feet of the walkers as they left Baltimore and headed south to Greenbelt Regional Park in Maryland, where they encamped. The heat and humidity were intense all day and all night.
"People have to understand that we are finding this walk much more difficult than we thought it was going to be," Tom Dostou reported to me over the phone. "The more we walk, the more we see how much damage there is -- in the land and in the people.
"Lots of people feel they only need to pay lip service to their spiritual, environmental, and social concerns. But it's going to take a lot more than that. We're all going to have to do more. Spirit has been pushed down and paved over on the Earth, and it's been pushed down and paved over in a lot of people, too. People have to understand that they must work with their whole heart and whole spirit now, before it's too late."
In the evening the walkers were guests at the Good Knight Castle in Beltsville, Maryland. Retired police investigator Edward Jagen founded the Good Knights in 1985. Through the use of a medieval knighthood theme, the Good Knight programs emphasize how to help prevent crimes and violence against children.
When children and adults behold Jagen for the first time, in full regalia as Sir Edward the Blue Knight, they are usually stunned. He cuts an imposing figure. He is a blonde man with a muscular 235 pounds distributed on a frame 6 feet 5 inches tall. His large body is dramatically outfitted in an authentic costume: a sky-blue suit of armor with gold leaf. On his breastplate is a heraldic white cross, flanked by stylized angel wings. At his waist Sir Edward wears a battle-ax; in a scabbard at his right calf is a dagger. Over all of this, he wears a feathered cape. In his right hand the Blue Knight holds a gleaming broadsword he has named Tenacity.
The contemporary dragon Sir Edward says he seeks to slay is sexual abuse of children, an evil that he says "hides in shadows cast by public embarrassment and silences its victims through shame and fear of reprisal." According to the American Association for Protecting Children, as of 1995 cases of sexual abuse of children had increased to over 130,000 a year in the U.S.A.
Jagen says that over the years thousands of young people -- from every ethnic, religious, and socio-economic background -- have been knighted by the Good Knights. They are trained and asked to be observant, and to protect not only themselves but also other children from sexual predators, and sexual abuse.
At the castle the walkers made ceremony with the Knights -- all outfitted in full regalia. They joined in prayers for the Earth and her children.
I spoke by phone with Grandfather Commanda up on the Kitigan Zibi Reserve in Quebec Province. He told me that every morning in his house on the shore of Bitobi Lake he makes a Pipe ceremony for the Sunbow walkers.
"A lot of times I can tell when something is happening," Grandfather told me. "The pipe talks to me. A lot of people might think you are crazy to say something like that, but it's true. If you are ready and you pray with one mind and one heart and also listen, the Pipe might talk to you. So I can tell sometimes when something is happening with the walk, something good or something bad. I pray for them every day, every morning.
“The walk had to happen. They have to carry this message of the Wampum Belts from the East to the West. We want our children and grandchildren to have a good life, too, and so it has to happen."
I also had a phone conversation with walk advisor José Lucero who was at his home on the Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico. He said he is praying for the walkers every day, too. He counseled the walkers to slow down and follow their own human rhythm, rather than the dictates of a paper schedule.
"They may think they have very little time, and that they have to get somewhere because it is scheduled on paper. But that is an illusion," José said. "They have time. All they have is time."