Monday, February 14, 2011
WALKING ON SACRED LANDS
It’s the second day of the Walk for a New Spring and we are in Northfield, Massachusetts. Today we walked more than 12 miles and yesterday we walked just three miles. Yesterday I felt nothing after walking; today my feet are stiff and a bit sore.
Yesterday in Leveret, we walked from the New England Peace Pagoda (the home of the Buddhist order Nipponzan Myohoji) to the Congregational Church in time for their Sunday morning service. The minister shaped the worship service around the walk and after it was over about 50 local people gathered across the street in the town hall for a potluck lunch to send the walk off with a big cheer.
In the early afternoon we were back at the Peace Pagoda where we watched a fascinating documentary about Native American history in this part of New England. At Turner Falls, which we passed by, white settlers slaughtered Indian refugees in the mid 1600’s as war broke out over control of the land. In 2007 the town of Turner Falls, named after the military officer in charge of the massacre of the Indian refugees, asked Native American elders to come hold a healing ceremony with them. A nice gesture but I couldn’t help but wonder if the town was truly serious about reconciliation they might have considered changing their name.
One of the truly amazing stories in the documentary were the significant discovery of large rock mounds throughout the state that were found to be set up in perfect coordination with the sight-line of the rising sun on the solstice and the setting sun on the equinox. Carbon dating around fire pits at one of the mounds was found to be more than 4,000 years old. Some of the rocks and boulders at several of the sites were not indigenous to that particular part of the state and thus had obviously been moved there. Native people have had difficulty getting the white establishment to see the value of preserving these sacred places.
As we walked along near some of these ancient areas I couldn’t help but think how in our “modern high-tech” world, we are so disconnected from the Earth that we know virtually nothing about the history and profound spiritual nature of our surroundings. Instead we live in ignorant bliss watching our cable TV, gorging on info-tainment and junk food, the whole time believing we are the smartest and “greatest” culture in the world. It’s a mind blower to me.
Tomorrow we head north into Vermont, to Brattleboro, and after that we’ll head east to Kenne, New Hampshire before dropping back down into Massachusetts.
Tim Bullock, who has organized the walk on behalf of the Peace Pagoda, at each stop explains to those who have come to greet and feed us that the purpose of the walk is to attempt to bring a thawing of the frozen hearted people who have learned to live in our militarized culture in a perpetual state of fear and war. This war footing mentality has been blindly internalized by the white culture since the Europeans first came to this land. They quickly became accustomed to living in fear as they stole the land from the Indians. Our walk, coming in the winter and calling for an end to war, invites people to find the peace in their hearts that could come with the dawning of a new spring.