“Tho' much is taken, much abides;
and tho' we are not now that strength which in old days
moved earth and heaven,
that which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
- From “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Day 157 - Sunday, November 26, 1995 - After brewing pots of morning coffee, we collected around the fire in Sandra and Jorge’s backyard to draw upon the one source of warmth available to us.
We each made a tobacco offering to the sacred fire. A weak sun came up through the high, scudding clouds.
Grandfather telephoned from the motel where he had spent the night, and called us to a third meeting out on the same desert knoll just west of the Rio Rancho developments.
As we mobilized and began to travel toward the knoll, a low-pressure weather system came upon us from the north. The system spawned winds that gusted to 55 miles an hour, according to the next day's newspaper account. An angry and unrelenting wind roared across the desert, driving wild, swirling, biting blasts of sand into great, dark, fulminating red clouds.
We huddled with Grandfather Commanda behind a small bush on the side of the knoll as the dust storm raged through the afternoon. In this manner we completed our three-day healing circle in the desert.
The roar of the wind and the stinging sand made it hard for everyone to hear what was said. But the feeling of the afternoon was unmistakable: walk and pray together. It is vitally important that we overcome our differences, unite, and walk on to fulfill the prophecy.
"You must walk together," Grandfather told us, "and you must forgive and love each other. It is the only way that this walk can work. You must make a sacrifice. Even if someone has done something wrong, love them. You cannot cast them out of the circle. That is not the way."
Joy Lusco took a vivid impression of the scene into her soul. She likened it to the scenes of Christ in the desert that she had read about in the Bible, and deemed the afternoon in the desert "unforgetable."
A pipe ceremony followed the discussion. Ned Pashene later told me that during the pipe ceremony he felt the Earth move, just as one of his Medicine teachers, Angus Pontiac, had told him would happen during important ceremonies that were done in a proper manner.
After a pipe ceremony, with Tom, Ned, and Joe kneeling the sand immediately before him, Grandfather Commanda said a the Lord's prayer aloud in Latin, the way he had learned it as a child in boarding school. Jacki Gauger remembers this distinctly, for at the same moment, even though she had no idea what Grandfather was saying, she was reciting the Lord's Prayer in English.
When Grandfather Commanda spoke to us he re-affirmed the simple spiritual teachings of honesty, caring, sharing, respect, and forgiveness—core ethics for millennia in North America. “Stay together,” he said. “Forgive each other and go on. Go on to the Western Gate together.”
After all was complete we stood in the howling, ripping, sand-blasting wind to embrace each other and to make plans to travel on together—as one group—to the west, where our walk will end in February.
At this juncture, I think most of us did feel healing. We had been humbled, and powerfully reminded of our purpose: unity for the Earth and for all the life that shares the Earth – the water, the air, the stone, and the fire. We’d also been reminded how important our mission is. Tom was embraced. We all hugged. everyone was going to walk together, and find a way to get along
That night the congregation of the Albuquerque Ba'hai center hosted a potluck supper for us.
Shortly after Einar arrived to be part of the dinner, Tom approached him and asked to have his Medicine Bundle back. “Grandfather said I could have it,” Tom said.
Einar had been carrying Tom’s pipe, his feathers, and his other sacred medicines since we all crossed into Texas at the city of Wellington. That’s where I returned the little blue Toyota truck, Bess, and Tom had stowed his Medicines in it, then lost possession of the vehicle.
When Joe and Ned searched the truck in Wellington, they found the Medicines all wrapped up in a piece of white canvas. Not wanting to have Tom’s energy or Medicine anywhere near them, they asked Einar to carry the bundle behind his driver’s seat, but would not let him look at or touch the Medicines. They said to just carry it, and to leave it alone.
Tonight when Tom asked to get his bundle back, Einar first checked with Joe and Ned before the supper, then returned everything to Tom, who smiled upon re-gaining his power objects.
Grandfather Commanda collapsed as the potluck supper began. He was in the back of the when he just lost it. His vision grew blurry, and he slumped to the ground. His face was drained of color. He had no strength.
Escorted by Rita and a retinue of healers, Grandfather left the dinner and returned to his hotel to rest for the night, while the dinner went on without him.
The physical and emotional ups and downs of the previous three days in the desert have been demanding for every one of us, especially him. He held the center of the circle, and he felt everything coming from all directions. “I took it all onto myself," he told me later, "and it made me feel sad."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 158 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire