"We must stand together, the four sacred colors of humanity, as the one family that we are, in the interest of peace... We human beings are a spiritual energy that is thousands of times stronger than nuclear energy. Our energy is the combined will of all people with the spirit of the natural world to be of one body, one heart, and one mind for peace."
- Leon Shenandoah
Day 32 - Monday, July 24, 1995 - Hopping aboard the Metro subway, the walkers rumbled into downtown Washington to meet with a group of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including Marlene Regelski from EPA's American Indian Environment office.
Over the course of an hour-long meeting, the walkers presented their message. Tom told them that our walk is in no way a protest or political march, or a march of any sort. We are a prayer walk, he said. “We walk only to pray, to ask Creator what we have to do to clean up the environment, and to achieve racial unity.” In turn the walkers heard from the officials that their budget had just been slashed. The EPA officials seemed weary.
Afterwards the walkers went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a reception. Even in the face of a seductive array of snacks, the fasters maintained their status, eating no food and drinking only water.
Despite having recently resigned from the board of directors for Sunbow 5 Foundation, Gayil Nalls arrived from New York City bearing a gift of support for the walkers: a Macintosh PowerBook portable computer. The computer is being loaned to the walk by the Ross Elementary School of Long Island, New York.
With Frank Decontie, Grandfather Commanda arrived after driving down to Washington from Ottawa. It took them 24 hours, but Grandfather nonetheless was in good health and great spirits. He came to encourage the walkers now that they have finished the first phase of their pilgrimage, and to help strengthen their spirits for the next phase -- deeper South.
The first month of our walk has been along the industrial eastern seaboard of the United States -- tough, dirty, noisy, confusing, wearing. The streams, rivers, ponds and lakes through this corridor are uniformly polluted and thus not potable. We've had to spend a chunk of money to purchase drinking water -- a circumstance even the Seven Prophets had not foreseen.
This early phase of our walk has also been marked by a steady chain of public meetings in the hopes that we could deliver the Sunbow messages widely.
All of this -- walking, camping, cooking, public speaking, trying to get along with one another in the heat and stress, and so forth -- has placed extraordinary demands on everyone.
The hope now is that our journey through the South will refresh and renew everyone -- that the walkers will be regrouped in a good way by the spiritual forces of nature as the walk proceeds through the Appalachian Mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway and on Skyline Drive. It all just sounds so much cooler, so much more wholesome.
Sunbow Walkers in Washington, DC. - From the left, Tom Dostou, Negumi Haga, Osho Genje Abe, Naoko Haga, Erika Haga, Kazu Haga, and two unidefied children. Photo by Craig Morrow, July 1995.
Special Note: As the story of the Odyssey of the 8th Fire unfolds on this website in the weeks ahead, I will tell the story of how a delegation of walkers backtracked from Memphis, Tennessee, to Washington, D.C., in 1995 to attend an important prayer vigil at the base of the Washington Monument.
I will post the account of that crucial part of our pilgrimage -- Days 98, 99, and 100 -- on this website in late September.
But just now -- to give advance notice -- I want to inform readers that the annual Prayer Vigil for the Earth will happen in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, 16, and 17, 2006. All people of all traditions are welcome to participate.
The Vigil is a profoundly powerful spiritual event: a tapestry of cultures and traditions woven into a living prayer for harmony with the natural world, and the well-being of all Creation.
A sacred fire burns throughout the weekend. The Native caretakers of Turtle Island (North America) and other spiritual leaders will open the Vigil with ceremony that welcomes and ignites a wave of offerings from the many traditions of our world.
|A Prayer Vigil for the Earth at the Washington Monument in the U.S. Capital, was a key event for the Sunbow walkers in 1995. The Vigil will be held again in September, 2006. Photo courtesy of The Circle.
According to the organizers, creating a sacred circle at the base of the Washington Monument is more important now than ever before.
Metaphysical literature suggests that an obelisk such as the Washington Monument represents masculine power, and broadcasts information and energy. The sacred circle, a feminine power form, provides balance for the masculine obelisk and energetically invites feminine values such as home, family, relationships, and community to be active and present in right relationship with the masculine virtues.
The organizing committee intends that this annual joining of masculine and feminine energy -- within the context of the world's many spiritual teachings and practices -- will serve to consecrate the land and the whole of our Earth, and also produce healthy seeds for the generations to come.
For further information about this year's gathering (Sept. 15-17, 2006) see Prayer Vigil for the Earth.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 33 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire