“We need to forgive one another for what we have done in the past. But if one does not face the truth, the past does not end."
- William Commanda
Day 155 - Friday, November 24, 1995 - In Rio Rancho, just beyond the edge of wildly burgeoning suburban development, the desert stretched away to the west. Here in the late afternoon, upon a small knoll, about 50 walkers and friends gathered for a pipe ceremony.
Grandfather had arrived from Canada, Tom had arrived from wherever he had been, I'd landed from New Hampshire, and everyone else was on hand.
As we arrived at the desert knoll, the wind rose and blew so hard it began to scream across the desert. It blew stinging sand into everyone and everything. The storm rocked across the desert relentlessly, and whipped through our gathering as we huddled low on a dune, seeking a windbreak. We prayed.
Partial sunbows appeared throughout the day -- little spots of rainbow light, as if they were broken pieces of the full 360-degree Rainbow Hoop that, in its perfection, is the Sunbow. The fragments, or spots of rainbow light are called Sundogs.
Sundogs (parhelions) are a relatively common atmospheric optical phenomenon associated with the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in clouds.
Essentially a halo fragment, sundogs typically appear as a bright and colorful rainbow patch in the sky.
On the rarer occasions when the rainbow halo extends all the way around the hoop of the Sun and forms a full circle, then the sundog becomes a sunbow, also known as a Whirling Rainbow -- the prophetic symbol of our Sunbow walk for the Earth.
Early this morning several of us got together and drafted a letter to Grandfather, listing our grievances against Tom and declaring we did not want him as head man. About half of the 35 pilgrims signed the letter.
I signed. I was convinced it was the right way to deal with the situation.
Mike Nicholson told me he also signed the letter, but later regretted it. “I felt bad about it afterwards,” he said, “because I realized that I had judged another man.”
When we were all settled in circle out on the desert knoll, we presented our letter to Grandfather. Essentially the letter asked that Tom, Charlie, Stacey, and Lauren continue to travel on their own for a while, to heal themselves before rejoining the group. The letter protested their behavior, and declared that we felt oppressed by them, and unable to recognize them as leaders or sincere pilgrims.
Grandfather read our letter and his hands shook and his eyes filled with tears. He wiped his tears and then spoke. "No," he said. "This is not my way, this is not the way. You must all stay together. You must stay in unity.” He was unshakeable on this point: “You must all stay together as one group, one circle,” he said. “You can’t kick people out of the hoop. That's not the way forward. You must find a way to stay together.”
In this manner it was settled. We were all to walk together -- one reconciled, reunited walk. This constituted a reversal from the direction that most of the walkers had expected. We wanted to remove Tom and allies from the walk, for we no longer trusted them, nor were we of a mind to tolerate further abuse. But Grandfather made it plain that we could not fulfill the Seven Fires teaching in that manner.
Out on the knoll in the desert Osho, the Zen Monk who has advised our walk, intoned a Japanese chant, then struggled to read from a manuscript. But the roaring wind played havoc with Osho’s pages, and he fumbled about unable to complete his reading.
Ned took up a drum and started the Sunbow Medicine Song. We all joined in. The Sun set. We prepared to disperse. But after all of this -- over three hours of prayers, chants and a speech by Grandfather -- no one had uttered any clear statement about the big picture: what was happening and why.
Some felt it was done, that we had, in fact, participated in what was going to be the healing circle, and that, it was all over. Grandfather had rejected our letter, and told us to walk on together. But that still left a lot unresolved.
But most of us were still unsettled. It showed in our eyes. The prayers and chants were a beginning, nothing more. There were too many serious matters that had not yet been touched. We had not had a chance to express ourselves, and to exercise our idividual or collective will.
Joe relayed our concerns to Grandfather. On our behalf, Joe called for another circle, a time when each of the walkers could be heard. Grandfather nodded. We agreed to meet again in this same desert knoll at the edge of Rio Rancho tomorrow.
The night was piercingly cold. We walkers held our own circle, without Grandfather, Tom, or Osho. We gathered by the fire in the backyard at Jorge and Sandra’s home, and talked for four more frigid hours.
Yvette came before us and began to cry. She cried long and deep, and we waited in witness. Then she spoke. She used her own native Innu language, which only one or two other people in the circle understood.
Yvette would not let Ned or Serge or any others translate her words into English. She wanted us to hear her express herself in her native language.
After she finished, Serge translated her words for us. We learned that Yvette had told us that she has command of both the Innu and French languages, but no English. She told us of how she never understood what other people were saying in our circles, and so she felt enormously frustrated that she was – in effect – left out of important discussions and decisions.
She said it is excruciatingly painful for her to be cut out of the circle, and to not understand, to not be a part. She wept again, and her pain was on the surface for us all to experience.
In response to Yvette’s speech, Joe flew into a rage. It was as if an emotional bomb had gone off within him. He said he thought Yvette's passionate words –- spoken in Innu -- were an insult to him and everyone, somehow a dishonoring of the circle. His misplaced fury and the group's responses reigned for hours, then at last as the night grew even colder, the entergy and the talking expired. After letting his anger stuff up his comprehension, Joe was finally able to understand what Yvette had been saying to us. We all heaved weary sighs of relief.
We were all exceedingly tired. The air was sharply cold. By the time our night circle broke up, all the water in our buckets was frozen. We crawled into our frosted tents in Sandra and Jorge's backyard to sleep for what few hours we could, knowing much remained unresolved, unhealed
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 156 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire