- Henry David Thoreau
Day 101 - Sunday, October 1, 1995 - As has been his custom since he was a backwoods guide in the Canadian bush, Grandfather Commanda awakened well before sunrise.
|Grandfather Commanda shows the Seven Fires Wampum Belt at the prayer vigil. Photo courtesy of The Circle.
With cane in hand, Grandfather walked across the mall to the sacred fire in the center of the circle of tipis set just to the north of the Washington Monument for the prayer vigil.
There he joined a ceremony being led by Corbin Harney of the Western Shoshone Nation. Chief Harney and his helper sang five songs, and asked the people—over 200 of us—to dance a simple round dance, and thereby help to move the healing energy of the songs deliberately to the Earth with the sacred intent of their steps.
Late in the morning Leon Shenandoah, Tadadaho (Chief), Iroquois Six Nations, led a half-mile walk from the prayer vigil at the base of the Washington Monument to a site not too far from Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the group would plant a Tree of Peace—a native symbol of powerful ideas about human relations and social order, wherein human law is aligned with natural and spiritual law.
Jacki and I were already at the tree-planting site, waiting, when we heard the drums, looked up, and saw the procession of vigil walkers coming toward us. We could, quite palpably, feel at a distance of 100 yards or more the aura of prayer energy that they were creating with their songs and steps. It was unmistakable.
As we felt the focused energy of this group coming toward the tree-planting site, we recognized that our long walk, the Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth, was undoubtedly creating a similar wave of tangible energy. But because we are among the walkers ourselves, and thus inside the wave of energy, we are less inclined to notice it than people who are outside.
Chief Shenandoah presided over the ceremonial planting of a Peace Tree in the east direction. He said it signified the beginning of a new day for the Seventh Generation of children to be born since people of different colors began to move onto this Turtle Island continent.
|A circle of tipis on the Mall at the base of the Washington Monument. The vigil -- for people of all colors and all faiths -- is held in September of every year. Author photo.
Over the course of the weekend Grandfather Commanda spoke privately and publicly about the Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth.
Meeting in a council circle last week in Memphis, the Sunbow walkers themselves had prepared a statement, a message they wished to share with the people at the Washington prayer vigil.
o We are walking east to west along the pathway of the Sun as our elders have requested, not for ourselves alone but that all may live.
o We feel individually and collectively that the Creator has asked us to do this walk to remind all the people that we face a choice of two roads. The choice must be made now or we face purification that may bring tremendous suffering to many.
o We acknowledge with humility that Jesus Christ carried a similar message 2,000 years ago when he walked in the Holy Land: "Love your neighbor as yourself, treat all with respect.”
o We have walked nearly 1,800 miles, and have about 2,000 more to go. We are discovering ourselves in community, and will stay in continuous prayer until we reach our place in the West with the Eighth Fire, as requested by Grandfather William Commanda.
o We have a message for youth: "One way you can help is to think before you speak or write, and also to think before you act."
o Look around and see what is. Listen to the wind, to the creature teachers, to your family and neighbors, and to your heart. Make your choice now with clarity. This is the time of choice.
o Come and walk with us. Remember, we may all seem to be walking separate paths in life, but they eventually are all running parallel. Our paths all come out at the same end.
Toward the end of the day when the vigil was complete, I bid goodbye to Grandfather and to Jacki, and flew home to New Hampshire.
Far to the south and west, the Sunbow walkers continued their steps on Route 70 across central Arkansas. They have covered about 120 miles since crossing the Mississippi River.
The walkers report that the terrain here is flat, much flatter than most of the walkers are accustomed to. It's a very different feeling and distances are proving to be deceptive. What appears as a short jaunt frequently turns out to be a lengthy ramble. The weather continues generally hot.
By the end of this Sunday the walk had reached Carlisle, Arkansas. The walkers pitched camp on the bank of a river at the Cypress Swamp Wildlife Reserve. The setting was beautiful but unfortunately had no facilities of any kind.
As night fell, fierce lightning, tremendous explosions of thunder, blasts of whirling wind, and a heavy, unremitting rain came upon the camp. The storm raged through the night.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 102 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire