4 ‘Izzat 167 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Lands Crossing, “The Game”
Yeah, I know–it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. It’s been a busy month, an interesting, even fascinating month. I’ll start with the Global Walk reunion I attended last month.
I did not quite know what to expect with the 20th anniversary reunion of members of the Global Walk for a Livable World, which was held in Loveland, CO in mid-August. We’d been all pretty much removed from each others’ lives for most of those twenty years.
But last year, one person who participated on the Walk started a Global Walk page on Facebook and found us on Facebook one by one. It was fascinating to see how we connected on Facebook–judging from how we’d comment on each others’ postings, it was almost as if we’d stayed in each others’ lives all along and never really parted company. Nevertheless, I also knew that seeing each other in person would be entirely different still.
My flight to Colorado was marooned by severe thunderstorms between Madison and my connecting flight in Minneapolis, and as such I didn’t arrive at Sunrise Ranch until nearly 1 a.m. local time. Nevertheless, I got a friendly greeting from two friends who were still up.
The next morning, I got up, showered, got dressed and offered prayers, and then walked outside. Thirty feet outside the building where I was staying, I saw a group of people standing around. I squinted my eyes to see if I could recognize them, but a number of them recognized me first. I was quickly engulfed in a lot of hugs. Actually, people would say their name first before hugging me, just to make sure I knew who they were, but for the most part I had little difficulty recognizing them. The only exceptions were two men who I couldn’t quite place. I found out a little later that on the Walk, they actually had been women at the time. (One of them jokingly said that they would be changing the sign outside their tents that had said “Womyn’s Space.”)
Really, it seemed that people had changed very little. Looking at everyone’s faces, maybe there were a few more lines in the faces, a few gray hairs, and different haircuts (usually shorter hair for the men–many of whom, like me, had long hair at the time). Yet, some of the walkers brought their children and a few of those children were teenagers–children actually not that much younger than the walkers themselves were back in 1990. Indeed, I felt like I was transported back to 1990. This was especially true in the evening when we had a big campfire in a beautiful valley.
There had always been a magical energy around the Walk and the Global Walkers. It was hard to describe, but I think a lot of it came from always being outside–in touch with and connected with the land. There was also somewhat of zany energy about us–a lot of it–but not all of it–was because a lot of us were in our early 20’s at the time. Nine months on the Walk had caused us to evolve into our own culture, our own norms (and sometimes lack thereof). There was often a rather earthy sense of humor, and a little bit less inhibition due to things like occasionally showering only ones every couple of weeks (particularly in unpopulated areas like the Southwest). Living in a mobile community of eighty people challenged all of us–in various ways we were confronted with our own personal issues and often it was a struggle–yet there was also an undeniable connection between us. And this magical energy returned when we reunited–it was as if the energy had never gone away.
(sorry for the video and sound quality here–it was recorded by my phone)
There were a few residents at Sunrise Ranch that noticed that energy. More than one person approached us commented on that–saying that they were deeply moved by the energy we brought to the facility.
At the closing circle, one person commented that contrary to what he’d thought at the end of the Walk, that we actually had succeeded in our mission. I had been disappointed at the end of the Walk because I felt that we had not done aggressive enough outreach to make a difference, but twenty years later, I see his point. A big part of how we made a difference was in the way we affected people along the way. Many hearts were touched and changed, and we were changed most of all. I commented that despite having lived in community for seven and half years via housing co-ops, there was a sense of community here that has been often been missing from co-op life here in Madison, even though I’ve built some wonderful connections with a few people here.