"A spiritual pilgrimage awakens our perceptive faculties, causing us to see what we did not see before."
- Paul Lambourne Higgins
Day 3 - Sunday, June 25, 1995 - Grandfather Commanda departed the walk and headed home to the Kitigan Zibi Reserve in Maniwaki, Quebec, Canada. He will rest at home on the shore of the lake, then re-join the walk in two weeks at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City.
Tom checked in with me by phone to report that the walk made good progress on this third day, even though it was again hot and humid. Tom says he thinks the walkers are breaking through, that they are beginning to get a feel for the rhythm of their long walk.
On a prayer walk the ideal is to carry each step through with a focused repetition of the seed thought. Walking is pace, loneliness, unity, sadness, peace, release, tiredness, joy -- the range of human feeling intensified by the rythym of stride. As the steps go on hour by hour, the rhythm, the sensations, the remembrances, the petitions deepen. Spiritual wayfarers typcially meet challenge, hardship and deprivation – conditions that test and that may precede exhileration and exaltation.
Traveling slowly by foot in a high-tech, high-speed age, the Sunbow 5 walkers are striding witnesses both to the natural beauty around them, and to the neglect and abuse of nature demonstrated by our human community.
In some spiritual traditions a pilgrim walks on faith alone: with no money, no visible means of support. Pilgrims yield their security, and then subsist on trust -- trust that there will be food, water, shelter, safety. Our walk is definitely proceeding on trust, and with only modest support from our private, non-profit Sunbow 5 Foundation. At this early stage, it looks like the walk will have about $500 a week to meet whatever expenses arise.
Signs appeared in the sky as the walkers journeyed toward the canal that separates Cape Cod from the mainland of Massachusetts. Feathered clouds and spiraling hawks manifested in turn.
Near the canal the walkers encountered a group of young Black men. The two groups stopped and talked. The young men wanted to know what the walk was all about. They were astonished to learn the stories of the Seven Fires, the White Buffalo, the House of Mica, and all the rest. Never before had they heard as much as a whisper that these stories belong to them and their land.
|The Bourne Bridge - Spanning the Cape Cod Canal. (Photo by Peter Gene, courtesy of flckr.com)
In the afternoon the walkers paused at the apex of the massive steel-and-concrete arch that is the Bourne Bridge, spanning the 480-foot wide Cape Cod Canal. While they gathered in a tight circle at the high point, the walkers entered into prayer guided by Dennis. They remembered especially, in respect, the dozens upon dozens of people who -- having lost all hope -- have hurled themselves off the bridge into the dark, racing waters far below. For all these brothers and sisters, the walkers in a sacred manner sang the Sunbow song.
After prayer, the walkers bridged the rest of the distance over the canal. On the mainland of Massachusetts, where the forests grow thicker, they settled for the night in the town of Onset.
Copyright 2006 - by Steven McFadden
Read Day 4 - Odyssey of the 8th Fire