Today’s March in began in pouring rain (again). Prior to this March I wouldn’t have thought about walking for hours in the rain (and wind). The multiple experiences on this March in the rain, sometimes heavy rain, have actually been enjoyable, being with a group of friends out in it. I think being blessed with the burning sage helps, too. Besides, being outside all day, and sometimes sleeping outside (sometimes in some strong thunderstorms) has made me more and more aware of the natural world. I’ve mentioned before how I enjoyed being outside as I trained for this March. Walking has been much more interesting now that I am aware, as Indigenous people have always known, that everything: trees, water, plants, rocks, wind, etc. has the Spirit in them. I found myself focusing on talking to the trees, squirrels and birds as I walked.
We really crossed into the wilds when we arrived in Pilot Mound to find there is no phone or Internet service! We are in the last (or first) frontier. That’s why, obviously, I wasn’t able to post an update last night.
I was very happy to share some about Quakers and the Spirit when I was offered the chance to give the blessing at another point where we crossed the pipeline, just a couple of miles before Pilot Mound. As we stood in a circle holding hands, I mentioned that Peter Clay, Lee Tesdell, and I were Quakers. And that I hoped they would meet my brother Randy, also a Quaker, when he comes to Fort Dodge at the end of the March, for the celebration and give me a ride home. I’ve been trying to share about Quakers as opportunities come up for several reasons. I think there are many parts of Quakerism that are common with the spirituality of Indigenous people.
And as Manape has said, the reason we are Marching together is to make it possible for us to continue to work together in the future. For that to happen, we need to trust each other. And for trust to be established, we need to understand each other.
As we stood in the circle I said that Quakers do not believe spirituality is just a matter of Sunday morning services. We try to be attentive to the spirit all the time. We do also gather together Sunday morning to worship together in silence. That sometimes someone is given a spiritual message, that they speak into the silence. During the March someone asked if I was a minister and before I could answer, Miriam said, “he’s a Quaker and all Quakers are ministers.” I asked the circle of my friends to listen together to the Spirit, saying we wouldn’t do so for a whole hour. Even in the short time we spend worshipping together, I felt the presence of the spirit among us. Afterward several people gave me hugs and thanked me. As I think about it now, I have felt the spirit among us all week.
Manape is the head of our security team (with the Soldier Boy tattoo). Also notice in the photo above where the trees were removed to lay the pipeline.
Since the first several hours of the March were in the rain, and because there was little or no shoulder on the busy highways we Marched along, we didn’t have as many chances to talk with each other, so I don’t have a lot of new stories from the trail.
Once we arrived in Pilot Mound some of us noticed we were being followed by a car for a while, then it went away. The driver was Manape’s father, Frank, and he was just enjoying watching us March together. Frank has been a very active activist.
One of the most moving parts of this journey occurred as Frank spoke to us before we ate dinner. Matthew began videotaping what Frank was saying, so I hope to get a copy of that. He began by saying he was honored to be with us and how blessed he felt as he watched us Marching. He said it made his “heart soar like a hawk.” He spoke of the many issues he has worked on in his life. And how it takes many, many years to see results (40, more). And it is not the number of people involved that is important. It is their persistence in raising up the truth. Once a certain concern starts to see a shift toward was is right, others remember the people or person who never went away during all those years.