by Marisa Keller | photos by Zac Rudge
When was the last time you cried in public? For many of us on the walk, it was this morning, at Geprags Park in Hinesburg. In a ceremony that marked the transition from resistance and mourning to the day’s theme of Reimagine, we sang together and created a space for grieving and letting go with a Ceremony of Tears.
Bowls of water sat on the ground inside the circled people, and anyone who wanted could go and sit by one, scoop up water and let it run through their fingers, and say, “These are my tears. These are my tears for…” Many of us cried both symbolic and real tears for the environmental destruction around the world, and the part we have played in it, and our state of disconnect from the natural world.
Most of us don’t learn to process our feelings in public. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But at the same time, it feels important to bring up and let go our pain (and the anger and frustration that come from it) before we start talking about the future we want to create.
What do you imagine when you think of an ideal future? Perhaps you focus on technological innovations for renewable energy. Or perhaps you think of better local food systems. Perhaps you envision a more equitable distribution of wealth. Perhaps you dream of a world of people living in harmony with the Earth.
We need a hopeful vision to keep us going. But what happens when your imaginings are different than mine?
We walk with a common clarion call for change, but the next step is to come up with alternatives, and not all of us look at the problem the same way, or are willing to make the same sacrifices. Large-scale change requires large-scale buy-in. And as we all take our next steps along the path forward, it helps keep us together if we are willing to engage in an alternative even if it makes us uncomfortable, like sharing our feelings in an unfamiliar ceremony.
Whatever future you imagine, whether you think our actions are the best way to get there or not, we encourage you to come rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday, for Day Five: Reform. Bring your desire for change and your reimaginings and add your voice to ours!
What follows are reflections from an assortment of walkers, young and old, on their experience of the walk — special moments, general reflections, and hopes.
Excerpts from the Walk Journal, Day 3
“I am appreciating and feeling grateful for the deep conversations with people of all different ages that I am able to have on this walk. Things feel like they have slowed down, when you move by foot the pace is slow. There is time to talk and share and learn stories from other people. I had a great conversation with Miriam who is 17 and on this walk alone, experiencing a level of independence that she has not experienced before. I also enjoyed talking with some women who are older than me, in their 60s or even 70s and hearing about what brings them hope — even after fighting for so long. This woman was still learning and getting super excited about using fungus and soil microbes to detoxify land that has been contaminated.”
“I walk slowly, carrying the sacred water. It is a chance for me to reflect and remember Standing Rock. The smell of sage drifts through the croud, calming, a reminder of the prayer we embody. Someone starts a song in the middle of the group, and it makes its way up to the front, inspiring us on our journey. The day fills up our senses.”
“I am moved and motivated by this inspirational group of people. I am so glad I came!”
“So glad to be here. It feels like I have always been walking with these inspirational hard working people. May I remember it and bring it home with me.”
“Starting with a healing ceremony at Geprags Park with a chance to share our tears, be still in the peaceful meadow, sing together and spread seeds of new life and beauty — and food for the pollinators. Seeing my own resistance and judgement throughout the day’s moments and feeling it give way, gave me hope. Reimagining ways we are with each other, opening to the power of love, is something I need in my own life and can see it’s a global issue. Working, Acting, and Creating together is the way forward. Imagining collaboration feels like a start for me personally as one who is quite independent.”
“We try to walk in silence for a couple stretches during the day, typically about 20 minutes at a time. But there’s no silence. The low roar of fossil fuels burning permeates the landscape’s soundscape continuously, punctuated by crescendos and decrescendos of engine noise as individual vehicles pass us by, or planes pass overhead. … Our walk cannot escape it. Friendly supporters of our cause, waving at the courageous climate marchers. We wave back and smile. But this is like people passing an anti-slavery march in chariots pulled by teams of enslaved humans! Of course we wave and smile, they are our fellow humans, with blood on their hands just like ours. Not just the sound of fossil fuel combustion but the culpability for it is inescapable! This makes me feel complicated feelings. Feelings far more complicated than the very human feelings that make long group walks feel so good: Fatigue, hunger, solidarity, stuff like that.”
“Amazing folk. Focus is centered and hope is alive that our “small” group will awaken others to the critical times our Mother Earth is suffering. Along the way coltsfoot blooms remind us that thru the coldest and darkest of times life goes on.”