“You can’t force original truth down somebody’s throat. And you cannot coerce them, and you cannot threaten. Otherwise the truth dies.
“Ultimately, nature will do the teaching. She’s doing it now, and when nature teaches a lesson, everybody listens.”
– Tom Porter
Day 90 - Wednesday, September 20, 1995 - The walk continued to make swift progress. Some members of the group bore the Sunbow eagle staff onward until dark, allowing the group to traverse 38-40 miles over the course of the day.
"Some of us have some pretty bad blisters," Tom Dostou reported. "That's to be expected, and that's just the way it is.
"We can all walk, though. We really have the walking part of this trip worked out pretty good right now."
The walkers were fortified with hot pizza in the middle of the day as they passed through Selmer, Tennessee. Stalwart pilgrim Jim Duncan, who passed this way headed East in the springtime while walking the "Trail of Joy" with his family, has a lot of connections in the area. He spoke to the folks at the local Domino's Pizza. They kindly set out a big spread for all the walkers.
In late afternoon the walk pitched camp at the Buford Puser Park in Adamsville, Tennessee. Buford Puser was a local sheriff made famous in the movie "Standing Tall." The park wasn't real comfortable, but it was workable.
Our Sunbow 5 campsite at Buford Puser park was just a short distance from Shiloh, the Civil War battlefield. In the evening Tom drove over to visit the blood-soaked land by the Tennessee River.
Shiloh was the second massive battle of the Civil War. Some historians consider it to have been the most bitterly fought engagement of the whole nation-wrenching struggle; yet such great sorrows are ultimately beyond measure.
The name Shiloh has a special poignancy to it, for it was originally the name of a community just north of Jerusalem in the Middle East. Shiloh was the place where the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, was kept.
The Ark of the Covenant is reported to have been an oblong box fashioned of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.
For the Jewish people it was home to the Tablets of the Law: The Ten Commandments, the first of which admonishes, "Thou shalt not kill."
The Ark of the Covenant -- a mighty totem -- has been lost in mystery for centuries, with many a legend claiming to relate the truth of what became of it. One Jewish tradition holds that the ark will be restored at the coming of the Messiah.
It was in honor of the Biblical Shiloh -- the place of the Holy of Holies -- that the humble Shiloh Church in Tennessee took its name.
On the morning of Sunday, April 6, 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant and his Union troops were encamped along the Tennessee River just down the road from the Shiloh Church, and just below Pittsburgh Landing on the river. The weather was clear and cool. The morning appeared to be the start of a placid Sabbath.
Union soldiers expected no trouble from the Confederate forces under General Albert S. Johnston, forces that were thought to be at Corinth, 20 miles away. But they were not in Corinth. They were in the woods nearby.
|Civil War bayonet charge - Sketch by Winslow Homer in 1862 for Harper's Weekly magazine.
As the Union troops gradually rose for Sunday breakfast, all hell broke loose. The Confederate troops emerged from the woods on order with guns blazing. The battle raged furiously for two days. By the time the smoke cleared, some 23,000 human beings had been killed or severely maimed in bitter close-quarters combat.
A palpable air of sadness still pervades the grounds at Shiloh, as it does at Gettysburg, Antietam, Chickamauga, and other killing grounds.
"It's not what you see when you look around," Tom told me, "it's what you feel. It's very easy to get caught up in the powerful sensations of pain, suffering, and violence that are in a place like this.
"You have to be on your guard not to let yourself be overwhelmed by the spirits in such a place," Tom advised. "Healing has not happened here yet, and you can tell. We offered tobacco and made our prayers to ease all the spirits and bring healing to this place.
"But it would be good for people to keep coming here to Shiloh and praying," Tom said. "It still needs healing."
The walk will continue along Route 64 Thursday and Friday. The Sunbow scouts report that it's a poor road for walking. The shoulders are narrow, and the cars and trucks whoosh by at a hair-whipping rate.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 91 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire