"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life; perfect your life."
Day 140 - Thursday, November 9, 1995 - The wind blew fiercely as we awakened in our circle of tents behind the Claude Hopper Inn in Claude, Texas.
Early in the morning, as the wind raged, Yvette's sturdy canvas bush tent –- designed for camping in the far north of Canada -- blew over and ripped. With the help of other walkers, Yvette calmly secured the tent, then made bannock for breakfast from flour water, baking power and salt. She spent the rest of the morning sewing the rip in her canvas tent.
|Yvette Michel - Kneels by the wood stove in her bush tent to make bannock, pan-fried bread dough. Author photo, 1995.
A small patrol of pilgrims shuttled back down the road to the east, and then started walking west toward the Claude Hopper Inn to make up the miles we had not yet covered.
The sun made walking pleasant, even though it was dry and windy on the North Texas plains. Tumbleweeds rolled on by. A hawk flew over the walkers most of the day, sometimes circling overhead, sometimes flying ahead and roosting on a branch to watch until the walkers came to, and then passed him.
Regular camp life continued. Polly MacNichol went to the supermarket to stock up on beans and hot dogs, the main feature of the menu for tonight. Michael Medicine Arrow did oil changes and brake jobs on several of the vehicles, and replaced the shocks in Bess.
In the afternoon a Comanche elder named Billy Taupin drove out to our camp with his wife to meet us in a circle around our sacred fire behind the Inn. He came at our request. We knew we needed healing.
Our strained group relationships, especially the recent traumas with Tom in Arkansas and Oklahoma, had drained us.
Billy conducted a Comanche healing ceremony, using an eagle wing to waft smudge over each one of the walkers. The smoke came from cedar gathered nearby at Palo Duro Canyon.
Although he knew little about Native American beliefs and rituals, Jack Spencer joined our circle. A broad smile of satisfaction crossed Jack's face as we heard Billy Taupin speak a blessing in his native language while fanning the smoke over each person with a huge beautiful wing from a Golden Eagle. Then as he finished smudging each person, Billy said "...so be it in Jesus' Name, we ask."
Billy Taupin is a Medicine Man in the Comanche tradition, and a devout Christian.
A cross is silouetted against the Texas sky at sunset. Author photo, 1995.
After the smudging and blessing, Jack Spencer asked our permission to fulfill the rest of the vision he had received long ago, by witnessing to the walkers about his own spiritual awakening. He then repeated the story of how, long ago, he had come to Christ.
Our circle came to an end. At Joe Soto's request, Billy Taupin stopped by the old blue truck, Bess, and smudged and blessed her up real good with his eagle-wing fan so she would have spirit help to run the rest of the way to the Western Gate at the Pacific Ocean.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 141 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire