Aloha! Currently we’re all in cars headed to East Calais. We’ve been invited to breakfast with some Burmese monks who are there visiting. Apparently, these monks were some of the leaders in the protesting/rebellion of how their country is being run. They might walk with us a bit through St. Johnsbury but I think that’ still up for debate.
So far the walk has been amazing. We’ve had nothing but kind and gracious hosts. Last night we stayed at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Montpelier, VT. The Sexton, Will, was such a helpful man. It’s obvious he loves his church and to me that’s a reflection of what kind of place it is. Last night Senator Bernie Sanders and the Danish Ambassador, Friis Arne Petersen, had a meeting at the church we stayed in. It was really powerful and reflected poorly on our country. Denmark has no nukes and everyone has free healthcare. After their lecture/Q+A I was able to give them both a pamphlet and talk a bit about the walk. It was great.
Saturday the 20th, we walked throughout Burlington and were able to attend a peace forum at the town hall. It was the first day of Spring and the energy of the people was staggering. After the forum there was a march up Church Street.
Personally I learned a great deal of pretty terrifying things. For instance, the U.S. military budget for 2010 is 744 billion dollars, and right now there are over 1000 U.S. military bases and installations around the world. What right do we have to police the world?
I also learned that in Afghanistan the people have less than 6 hours of electricity a day, there’s a water shortage, dysentery, cancer and numerous water borne diseases are bordering on epidemic proportions. There is a surge of child leukemia and birth defects. In the city of Fallujah in Iraq 25% of newborns have serious physical deformities as a result of the depleted uranium in U.S. ammunition. I once read that children are the only real innocence in the world. And we are killing them daily. To me, going to this forum was extremely important because it shows even more prominently the relevance of this walk to everyone all over the world.
So Saturday was an intense day, spiritually. We were lucky enough to have Doug and Carol and their grandson Eric walk with us in the morning. Eric is only 8 and it is awesome that he got to walk with us. Saturday evening we were welcomed in the Burlington Friends Meeting by Martha and Paul. They were really sweet people, as was their dog Sophia. Cliff and Jean stayed for the potluck as well and after dinner the men went with Cliff, and we (the ladies) went with Jean to her co-housing facility. It was an amazing community.
And last, but certainly not least, Friday the 19th: the first day of travel and the walk! Friday morning was a bit frantic as we were trying to pack up and get prepared for the journey. We started off the day with a beautiful circle around the pagoda. We got a chance to hear everyone’s name and find out where/for how long everyone was walking. Elijah (Jehann’s son) and I carried the front banner down into Leverett Center where the town hall and church are. We drove to Fenalee’s house for lunch and then drove up to Burlington in time for the peace vigil that is held there 5 days a week from 5-6pm. Chris met up with us there and walked us down to watch the sunset over Lake Champlain. It was absolutely stunning. From the lake you could look back at the town, and it just had this wonderful, passionate vibe. There was a bass player on the roof of a skate shop playing some groovy beats, and an incredibly diva-licious Lexi Devine came over and spoke to me about VT Yankee. We went to spend the night at Chris’ house. It was me, Mani, Toby, Brother Kato, Betty, Tim, Christian, and Palmer who joined us from Maine. Bonnie and her partner Lisa came by for dinner. Bonnie used to work for a group called the Rainbow Builders and they knew Kato from about 30 years ago building the temple. All in all so far it’s been a great trip. I can’t wait to hear what the Burmese monks have to say. Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo 🙂 Vanessa.