AND THE STONE DO NOT BLEED
Day 31 Salt River Canyon
to a field on the reservation
today: 26 cumulative: 610
5 large Yuccas surround the camp on the edge of this cliff. This place is not called Dead Horse Point, but there is a dead horse about 150 feet away from our camp so that is what I call it. Drinking camp coffee at Dead Horse point, taking my time today. A new energy from last night. On the road I live my bumper sticker: Life is Beautiful. I wave more and I smile more and I run up hills and I dance at rest stops. A family stops to talk to me about sled dogs. The woman, whose name I have lost, hands me a magazine. You might like this story about Mexican Pyramids. Looks like good reading, a legitimate overview pyramids, Teotihuacan The City of the Gods and sites in the Yucatan, and even the ziggurats of Iraq. But at the end of all of the facts they say that these stories may remind Bible students of the Bibles account of the tower of Babel, and how they are all dead and in hell because they had the audacity to build towers to the heavens. The fact that they are no longer here proof that their beliefs were not valid. Jesus Christ.
14 miles into the day we are ready to rest but there is no shade for hours. And then an opening, a new view, a new place inside my head besides the stomp step stomp. Like I wake up from long sleep trance, that is much of this journey. Long sleep trance. Wake up with trumpet calls for the view, trumpets always tell me when there is something I need to see. There have been days without trumpets, but only because I blocked them out, even in the city you can find the eye of god in the gutter. So this view is here and I stop to wander towards it, and the shade I had been looking for is there. Cosmo naps and I eat spoons of peanut butter and honey from a bottle. Cosmo naps with her head in my lap. One wave rises like a cone, surrounded horseshoe of hills deep forest green from lack of sun, a cloud had blocked, but the rising wave hill catches window of light and that is worth watching and waiting for more. Then all dark clouds, and an hour has gone by staring into my head, so time to return to the rhythm and step again.
Walk by Indian Reservation roads that go back to the places where people hang and shot themselves and where the traditions are not so popular, damn the heathens and their living earth they say. A big sign at the road to Cibecue, that tells everyone about Jesus. Back road bible belt born again bullshit everywhere. Leave me alone. We all have a cross to bear, dont make that poor Jesus character do all the work for you. Praying hands like the ceramic ones they give you to paint in summer Bible school. Yes, I went to Bible school. They had good cookies and as much kool-aide as you could drink. Remember the face in the bathroom mirror. But the Christian Indians are good to me, they always say they will pray for me and that I can believe in, and they hug me, and bless me, like Danny and Bernice today, stopping to talk to me and bringing me food. They dont try to sell me anything so I dont have to feel awkward about their t-shirts, pictures of pierced palms.
At the junction to White River there is a place for me to watch people come and go to a life more ordinary.
Big vans pull in and out, family in white truck with 8 kids in the back covered in blankets drinking half gallon sodas. Truck stop preacher who offers me free showers and food without a sermon. Friendly folk picnic table to sit on for hours drinking coffee and wait for inspiration. I like the children on the top of this truck with a setting sun behind them, spiked hair on top, long in back, compete for king of the hill. Drunk men come by and give me change, do I look like I am that poor, but I thank them for this generosity, everyone here is interested in my journey, there are places where no one is. And then Frank comes to talk to me. Frank is born again, but he does not offend me, he does not sell it, he just offers a story, nothing to argue, just his story.
Frank tells me to remember to pray to Great mother Father, a slip up, the old Indian in him, then corrects him self. Pray to lord Jesus. Frank was an alcoholic, and in the steps of recovery he found refuge in the dogma of Christ. It came to him as a voice from the sky, not a voice in his head he assures me. A voice from the sky. He was told to travel in the historic steps of Jesus, Noah, follow Bible maps to see the stones that people kiss and the kneeling candle prayer tour bus, Turkey, Egypt, Jerusalem, Greece. He tried to raise money by telling people about his vision, but he got only $200. A week before he was to leave he went to the offering box to pray for help, his wife told him to pray for help with the money, and so he did pray. And inside the offering box there was $8,000. God handing out stacks of hundred dollar bills for people to ride tour busses?
Why give up the spiritual teachings of his people? I want to know how one leaves that beautiful brotherhood of nature and harmony. Because the stone and the feather do not bleed. He needed to see the blood. Pierced palms, place his fingers in those holes. A guarantee with rules and psalms, proof on paper and 8 am on Sundays, no questions, only answers. I will not argue, I just want to hear this story, it is a good one. In the time of Noah he tells me, the people worshiped the stone and the feather, and when the flood came they held these things up and said take away the rain, and the rain did not go away and they are all on the bottom of the ocean and in the archeological digs and museum wax figures, pyramids in Mexico, ziggurats in Iraq. Unbelievers with the audacity to build towers to the heavens, to love stone and feather and the earth their mother. The fact that they are no longer here proof that their beliefs were not valid he says. And when the apocalypse comes, when the fire comes, the Apache will hold up their feathers and stones and this time they will beg the rain to come, but it will not and they will burn. Frank and his Christian brothers will watch from the bow of some great cruise ship and wave good bye suckers, so they say, so says the sign at the road to Cibecue and the magazine given to me today by a woman on the side of the road, and the t-shirts of the born again.
But I like Frank and he heard a voice and how can I argue with that. Smiling, we nod to each other. Yep. And the same moonlight shines on us as in Salt River Canyon, the same inspiring light. Easy miles on the reservation through fields of golden grass and pumice until I want to stop. And hide under the trees because it is illegal to camp here.