"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now." - William Penn
Day 29 - Friday, July 21, 1995 - After breakfast at the Lake Montebello Elementary School outside Baltimore, the walkers gathered on the lawn to listen to Dellie James. Representing the Baltimore Meeting of the Friends Religious Society, she told the walkers about the faith of the Friends community and about their way of worship.
Dellie told them that the Friends trace their origins to the 1600s when politically powerful churches insisted on the authority and necessity for hierarchical structures of priests or ministers. The human beings who began the Friends Society felt that everyone was able to have a personal relationship with Creator without having to depend on the intercessions of a priest.
Rather than obey the dictates of other men who have been appointed priests by various churches, the Friends obey their "inner light" Dellie told the walkers. She added that for 200 years the Friends Baltimore Meeting has maintained an Indian Affairs Committee, a group originally formed to reimburse native peoples for their losses during rapacious colonial appropriation of land and other property.
Dellie related to the walkers the story of how William Penn of the Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends, had in his era treated Indians as equal souls, not as outcasts or inferiors, as was the norm in colonial times.
Penn established a sanctuary in Philadelphia where freedom of conscience was guaranteed. Almost everywhere else in colonial America, settlers stole land from the Indians without fear of consequences. Penn would have none of it.
Penn negotiated peaceful purchases of land from native peoples at fair value. He also insisted that women deserved equal rights, and gave Pennsylvania -- the Commonwealth named after him -- a written constitution which limited the power of government, and guaranteed fundamental liberties for citizens. William Penn and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) brought all this almost a hundred years before the U.S. Constitution was written.
Before the Sunbow pilgrims decamped, Medicine Man Ned Pashene moved around the perimeter of the site at Lake Montebello with a trash bag "to take care of Mother." Then he walked the path a second time and scattered a circle of tobacco and corn meal to honor and feed the Earth, which, he said, "feeds us each day." The walk then moved out in vehicles, headed for new ceremonial grounds at the home of Elizabeth Dinges in Glyndon, Maryland. The weather remained hot and humid.
In the evening the Sunbow pilgrims kindled a sacred fire in Glyndon, heated rocks, and entered the purification lodge. Twenty-eight people -- all the walkers and several helpers -- formed the circle in the lodge, where they prayed for the Earth, and for the vision of our walk.
Later, Kay took coals from the sacred fire. She said she will carry the coals and tend the fire from this point along the Atlantic coast all the way to the Pacific, as she has been instructed by the Grandmothers on the Maniwaki Reserve in Quebec, and by Grandfather Commanda. She said she will serve as the Fire Keeper. She will also help the women who are on the walk, teaching them some of the Medicine Ways she has been trained in through her life, and helping them to keep themselves strong and clear.
Four walkers began a four-day fast, part of an intended chain of fasting for the eight months of duration of the walk. The intent is to take turns, for some of the walkers to be fasting at all times. The fasters asked for prayers that they might have the strength to purify, clarify, and fulfill their pledge, not for themselves but for the Earth.
Around the fire that night the walkers affirmed their collective intention by recalling their own story:
We began the Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth under the midday sun and the wings of a great bird on June 23, 1995 at First Encounter Beach, Massachusetts after the Eastern Door had been opened, after the Hopi elders fulfilled in 1993 their ancient sacred instruction to carry a message to the leaders of the world at the House of Mica (UN headquarters), and after the birth of the White Buffalo Calf in 1994.
Our Sunbow walk has come about now, in the time of the Seventh Fire, with the intention of helping to unify the many colors and spiritual traditions of humanity, in support of the Earth we all share. We are also striving to fulfill another ancient instruction: to engage and comprehend the traditional teachings of this Turtle Island continent.
We are striving to help light an Eighth Fire of peace, love, respect, and understanding. We know we must do more than talk about the teachings as ideas. We know we must live them. We know we cannot succeed alone.