"The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meaning and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other: it is best to have both.”
- Thomas Merton
Day 46 - Monday, August 7, 1995 - Charlie Commando, his daughter Samantha, and Jacki Gauger drove to Richmond to look at a 33-passenger school bus being offered for $2,500 at a used car dealership. The bus turned out to be "a piece of junk," as they saw it; it even broke down during their test drive. They had to coast the bus back into the dealer's lot.
With disappointment, they canceled the deal. Thus, the walk is still confronted with its major logistical hassle: lack of a support vehicle that can transport equipment and people. The walkers are all praying for a solution to arise soon.
The main group of walkers kept base camp at the Sedalia Center in Big Island, Virginia -- but they sent out a large band to stride further south through the day. We are making good mileage.
As our walk goes further south, we are entering territory that historically was occupied by the Aniuniwiya people (now more widely known as the Cherokee, or Tsalagi). Years ago I had a chance to interview J.T.Garrett, a gifted Cherokee healer. At the time he was working for the Indian Health Service.
J.T. told me he was raised on the Qualla Boundary, which is the big Cherokee reservation in North Carolina. Our walk will arrive there in just a few weeks. As a young man J.T. leaned away from the medicine path of the native tradition; it seemed too unusual to him. But then one day when he was in college taking a test he passed out and had a vision.
He told me that this visionary experience "was the first time I visited with what I call the White Eagle Spirit, which is similar to the White Buffalo." In vision he saw a huge eagle. "Its wingspan covered the land, and I had the opportunity to look through the eyes of this huge bird. I could see there was a lot of decay on Mother Earth, and there was too much being destroyed. People were in conflict. Then suddenly I knew that part of my role was to shift over into the direction of public and environmental health and to help people bridge the gap into a natural, spiritual understanding by using the teachings of Indian medicine.
"...Indian medicine is interesting primarily because it provides a way of life that encourages a focus on wellness. Indian medicine is basically a wellness methodology that emphasizes improving one's lifestyle and making better choices for encouraging good health, or 'good medicine,' which is the traditional Indian way.
"...The 'Rule of Opposites,' as I call it, is also a part of Indian medicine. The eagle feather (which is both light and dark) teaches us about the Rule of Opposites, about everything being divided two ways. The more one is caught up in the physical, or the West, then the more one has to go in the opposite direction, the East, or the spiritual, to get balance. And it works the other way, too -- you can't just focus on the spiritual to the exclusion of the physical. You need harmony in all Four Directions.
"...We are the ecosystem, and it's a part of us, internally and externally. The ecosystem is water, air, and earth, and we are water, air, and earth or minerals," J.T. said. "Our frustration with the environment and all environmental issues is coming to reality now because we are beginning to realize that we are part of our environment. We haven't just been killing Mother Earth, we have been killing ourselves. Now we need to heal Mother Earth and heal ourselves."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 47 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire