"People usually consider walking on water or thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Day 44 - Saturday, August 5, 1995 - The Sunbow walkers packed up their camp near Montebello, Virginia, and set off southward down the Blue Ridge Parkway. They had no particular goal or destination, simply the hope of progressing a decent distance, and finding a place to camp for the night somewhere along the road.
In the late afternoon, after seven hours of travel, the walkers came to the home of Foy King and Madeline Madeiros on Whetstone Ridge. There—at last, and with sighs of relief—they pitched camp.
Kay relates that it took enormous time and effort to make this contact for hospitality: four or five hours of work on the phone with no luck. Finally, Foy and Madeline's number turned up, the call was made, and the walkers were swiftly and generously welcomed. Foy and Madeline said they had heard about the walk through the "turtle telegraph," and that they had just been waiting for the phone to ring. They were ready to welcome their weary guests.
From this camp high atop a ridge, the walkers are able to gaze down into a rich, green valley, and out across rolling waves of mountainous majesty.
Kay told me that when she was at home on the Maniwaki Reserve preparing to leave on the walk, she had been taken aside by her friend and spiritual teacher, Maryanne Decontie, Frank's older sister. Maryanne told her that her role on the walk would be to open the path for the next day, to see that there was a clear path for food and shelter, and to ensure that there was a sacred fire each night -- the fire of hope.
In a 20-foot tipi on the ridge, the women walkers held a circle. Under Kay's guidance, the women drummed, sang, and talked.
"We feel that if the women are balanced and secure in their own beings," she said, "then it helps the men to be balanced. If the women are not balanced and feeling secure, then that tends to throw the men off balance. It's real important. We can all see that." Kay said the women were feeling especially strong and balanced after their circle on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the men circled up nearby, outside around the fire. Gaston LaVoie told me that a lot of the tension that had accumulated during the last few weeks on the walk was brought out in the open during the circle.
Gaston said that as the tension was exposed and understood, an atmosphere of friendship replaced it. "That circle was responsible for the beautiful evening of fellowship we later experienced," he said. "That was a truly healing circle."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 45 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire