"The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing with the spirit, with your whole being...
"The hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind."
Day 104 - Wednesday, October 4 - Almost all the walkers spent the daylight hours on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol building in Little Rock, talking quietly with passersby about the walk. There was unhappiness and uncertainty among many of the walkers about what exactly they were doing in Little Rock, and why they were doing it.
The Arkansas State Capitol building in Little Rock.
During the day the walkers fell into conversation with a Black woman named Gertrude who works in the office of the mayor of Little Rock. In the evening she came with her husband and children, a basket of fried chicken, and armloads of fruits and vegetables.
Seeing this family's goodness and generosity, the 30 walkers postponed the start of their four-day fast until Midnight, so they could share in the picnic-basket feast the family had brought to them
Together the family and the walkers shared the meal, and then passed the talking stick in a council circle on into the night. The new plan is for the walkers to commence their four-day fast as they bed down for the night.
E-mail Subject: Debating the Fast
From: Anne S. Gillis
I have just returned home to Memphis from outside Little Rock where I have been with the walkers. We stayed in Pinnacle Mountain Park. The other evening brought a thunderstorm with winds up to 45 MPH. Some of the tents, including mine were hit so hard they blew down. As a result almost everyone had clothing, tent and bedding that were soaking wet. Some people went to motel. I went into town and dried my clothes and came back to the park and slept under a large pavilion on the top of a picnic table. This made night two of driving rain.
It was a challenge. All the tents were soaked. The tents had to be stored wet because the walkers needed to move on. Some of the cars were mired in the mud, making a clean get away impossible. Two days of opportunities to act quickly and laugh at all the mistakes and problems created.
As we walk we see no clean water. The number of small dead animals beside the road is staggering. Riding in a car protects one from seeing the small snakes, frogs, birds and mice that have been squashed flat.
Yesterday we walked a stretch of road about a mile long and came across a dead animal about every three feet. The dead included a raccoon, squirrel, possums, armadillos and lots of mice, caterpillars and frogs. There were tiny feet scattered everywhere along with blood and guts strewn from one side of the road to the other. The animals need our prayers. The walkers need our prayers.
This afternoon we gathered for a circle and discussed the possibility of fasting at the state capitol building. I say possibility because even though about two hours was spent on the topic, and the decision was made by some to fast, the decision could be overturned tomorrow at the drop of a hat. As of now it looks like many of the walkers will begin a fast tomorrow to support planetary healing and they will position themselves at the capitol building. Tom Dostou called Grandfather William Commanda and discussed the situation with him. He told us Grandfather was in support of the idea.
The walkers are an odd mixture of humankind, striking out on a common mission. They are seekers experiencing personal healing along the walk. Some left families at home, promising to return and rekindle home fires. Some sold their homes and left all they had to become a part of the walk. Some had nothing to leave and came on the walk because they felt it was the next step.
Now the walkers stand on the edge of a new experience. Many of them have fasted during the walk, but tomorrow they will begin the practice of Mahatma Gandhi, fasting to call attention to something. They intend to practice nonviolent fasting to bring awareness to the ongoing destruction of our Earth Mother, and to ask for changes that will bring lifestyles into balance.
Some walkers have advanced the notion that they might be arrested on the capital steps, because it has often been a practice to incarcerate Native Americans without just cause. The walkers say they are prepared to be arrested, though they would prefer not to be.
May the fast be seen as a practical reaction to an impractical situation. May it be seen as sacred. Light a candle for the Walkers. Pray for them or do what ever it is in your tradition that imparts safety and courage.
- Anne Gillis
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 105 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire