“All I could think of was that in two days I was going to relive, here in the latter part of the twentieth century, something of the great human adventure that had brought Ulysses from Troy, that had been a part of Don Quixote’s experience, that had led Dante and Orpheus into hell, and that had directed Columbus to the Americas; the adventure of traveling toward the unknown.”
- Paulo Coelho
Day 141 - Friday, November 10, 1995 - We struck our camp at sunrise, moving from the Claude Hopper Inn, and setting out to walk to the west side of Amarillo, Texas.
The wind came up even stronger than yesterday. As the morning unfolded, we realized we were in the midst of a nasty dust storm.
Like the cowboys of old, we tied bandanas around our faces to protect our mouths and noses, and slipped on sunglasses to keep the screeching, scratching sand particles from our eyes.
The sky turned a dirty red all over the horizon, and soon ourfaces also turned red brown by the thick swirls of stinging dust.
Our pilgrimage made the front page of today’s Amarillo Daily News. Reporter Kerry Curry wrote the story, and it featured a page 1 photo of Running Fawn and me, with Jack Spencer kneeling behind. us.
The story featured an interview with Joe Soto, who was candid about our Sunbow pilgrimage : “We are tired of saying that we are walking for peace,” Joe told the reporter, “and at the same time when we camp out in somebody’s back yard we are fighting amongst ourselves.”
“What we are asking, in humility,” Joe said, “is that you pray for us.”
“We are asking that people not be critical, but to pray for us, so that we can experience healing. We are asking them because we cannot do it alone. We need their help.”
Ineke Soto was also quoted: “We are a microcosm of the larger society around us. Whatever is going on in society is going on in this group.”
The land around and about Amarillo is an uninterrupted plain of flat prairie defined by cattle ranches and cotton farms. Nothing checks the onslaught of the wind, and the wind kept ripping along all day.
About three in the afternoon a great, rumbling freight train came by, running west parallel to the Interstate. Hauling car after car of coal, the roaring train appeared like a hearse afire as ominous black clouds billowed up from it. Those black clouds were not smoke, just more dust -- coal dust -- being sucked out of the rail cars and blown up to become enmeshed in the dry red mix of prairie dust that saturated the air.
The whole infernal, airy mess was being blown our way. Onward we went, leaning forward, squinting, struggling to walk beyond the dust.
Late in the after noon a man named Dean Richard, age 40, came roaring down the interstate in a battered pickup truck, spotted us, and puled to a stop. He had read the Page 1 story about us in the Amarillo Daily News this morning, and had come out to witness Christ to us.
He started right in with the witnessing. Seven years ago when he was age 33, Dean said, he had read the Bible 33 times. That's what had done it. Dean said he "came on fire with the Holy Spirit," and he just had to share it with the world.
A large, athletic man with a gift for acrobatics, Dean's pathway of salvation had developed into a Frisbee Ministry. He said that in recent years he had visited 46 Christian churches in the Amarillo area to witness for Christ by showing people what he could do with a Frisbee when possessed by the Holy Spirit.
Dean said he felt that he had been poorly received by the churches, and so consequently he found the churches "wanting."
But, he wondered aloud, perhaps we would be interested in witnessing a demonstration of what a human being possessed of the Holy Spirit could do with a Frisbee? A few of us stopped walking along the side of I-40 and waited to watch.
In the midst of the howling dust storm, with gale-force winds at a steady 40 mph and gusting to 45-50 mph, Dean made his mudra -- the Sign of the Cross -- hopped out of his truck, and began an amazing solitary display of Frisbee prowess. His demonstration was marked with more than a few wild, stumbling moments in the Interstate gutter as the vicious wind and dust cut at him and the Frisbee.
In the end one had to marvel. It was clearly a miracle that Dean could do anything at all with the Frisbee under these conditions. I gave him the thumbs up, and sent him back to the shelter of his weary old truck.
He caught his breath, we shook hands, and he urged one and all to be sure and read up on two Bible verses: Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me," and Matthew 28:20 – “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
Later a woman who had also read about the walk in the Amarillo Daily News stopped on the Interstate to give us four wool blankets and four wool hats. She felt we might need them as winter was coming on and we were headed west toward the mountains.
Just before sunset, a cold rain began to fall, a rain that soon turned to snow. The wind continued to howl, and snow seemed to be firing at us sideways as if out of a gun.
By the end of the day we had moved our camp to Bushland, a town west of Amarillo, to the home Mary Emeny and Hunter Ingalles. On just a few hours notice, they graciously donated their home and their hospitality.
All 30 walkers stumbled of the cold into the house, started pulling a camp kitchen together to made dinner, rolled out sleeping bags on the floor, and pepared to bed down as one big family.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 142 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire