"Today we have gathered, and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now we bring our minds together as one, as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now our minds are one…
“…Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for the gifts of creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one...”
- Gram Selma Palmer
Day 154 – Thursday, November 23, 1995 – Way back east at First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Dennis Gonsalves and friends returned to ignite a sacred fire at first light this Thanksgiving Day. As the Sun lifted, they sang, drummed, and spoke prayers for the walk, for all the walkers, for the Earth, for all of life -- the Sacred Hoop.
Dennis told me the ceremony went beautifully, and that he felt a strong connection with all the Sunbow pilgrims. He said he planned to fly out to California towards the end of the walk, to meet us and to walk the final miles – just as he had walked the first miles with us across Cape Cod in June.
The walkers cooked two plump turkeys in the small kitchen of Sandra and Jorge Castro’s home -- in the suburb of Rio Rancho, just west of Albuquerque.
|Pat Three Rivers Nicholson., dressed for ceremony. Author photo.
Their home is at the edge of the development; just three or four blocks to the west, new homes are still under construction, and beyond them is the high desert with its chamisa and sagebrush stretching to the west as far as the eye can see. This undeveloped land to the west is where we will meet for our reconciliation circle in the days ahead.
But for today, the walkers gave thanks for having made it about two-thirds of the way from the Eastern Door to the Western Gate, for having a chance to participate in such a necessary quest, for having remained safe, and for having food and shelter today.
Three Rivers oversaw preparation of the feast. She made a big pan of stuffing Southern style, with cornbread, while Jacki Gauger made a big pan of stuffing Northern style, with wheat bread.
While the feast was in the oven, most of the walkers sat by the fire in the backyard, and when the rocks were heated glowing red they entered the sweat lodge that the Castro family had long ago constructed. The drums and the songs of the Sunbow pilgrims filled the suburban air.
Later in the day came a circle to express thanksgiving in song and prayers, and finally, the feast.
Not everyone is here yet, just the core walkers. Grandfather and the other splinter groups will arrive tomorrow for our healing circle.
Alycia Longriver was far away from Albuquerque on this Thanksgiving Day. She was off to the far northwest of New Mexico at Chaco Canyon, with the other Rainbow Walkers: Sherry, VaLaine, and Clayton.
Kiva - A large ceremonial kiva at Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico.
Alycia later told me about her experience of this Thanksgiving: “Back when the walk was in Maryland (Day 30), the Blue Knight took me into a private room and gave me instruction. He told me to find the ‘Heart of the Mother.’ I didn't know where that was, but as I went across the West I started sensing that it was coming soon.
“One night, for some unknown reason, I pulled out the map and I remembered the four sacred mountains (Mount Taylor in New Mexico, Humphreys Peak in the San Francisco Peaks of Arizona, Mount Hesperus in Utah, and Mount Blanca in Colorado). I put down Xs where the mountains were, and connected them by lines. The lines formed a rough square, so then I put another X in the center where the heart would be, and I knew that's where I had to go. But there wasn't anything marked on the map. Still, we went.
“When we crossed the border into New Mexico,” Alycia said, “we stopped at the visitors center and got pamphlets and such. Then when I studied those materials I saw a town called Farmington, and just below that was ‘Chaco Canyon.’ I knew that's where we had to go.
|Doorways - Through the ancient structures at Chaco Canyon.
“It turns out Chaco Canyon was a spiritual center for the old ones, who are now known as the Anasazi, though that's not what they called themselves.
“As soon as I entered Chaco Canyon it was like home. I knew I was home. The peacefulness that enveloped us was incredible. We were there for Thanksgiving. It was probably the most powerful Thanksgiving of my life.
“I took my Medicine Bundle and climbed high up into the mountains there, and just drummed, sang and prayed for hours upon that mountain. I gave thanks for everything. I prayed that people around the world could be thankful for their children, for their lives, for whatever that have.
“All along the walk people had given me little tokens, little gifts. I had never really had time to look at them until that day in Chaco Canyon,” Alycia said. “I spilled them out of the bag they were in, and saw that the tokens were symbols of everything we were walking for. There was a token of a child, of a mother holding a baby, and of a mother, father, and child. There was a bloodstone for the violence, a female stone to represent female energy, all these different things that encompassed harmony and Earth and people, everything that the walk was about.
“Spirit told me that this was my life: to dedicate my life to these things. And I did, I dedicated myself. That was the day I gave myself over to follow this path unconditionally wherever it may lead."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 155 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire