wild flowers, butterflies, and almost ripe wild berries

On a beautiful June day, we walked from Paw Paw to Kalamazoo. My feet had adjusted to the daily pounding, and I was feeling good. The On the Ground to Ground the Drones group had bonded and it felt good to walk through Michigan with my walker family.

little pieces of sunlight by the side of the road

this one was spectacular

there seems to be something very special about yellow flowers.

The walk to Kalamazoo was very long. It seemed as if we had walked forever (or almost forever). Maya, Ceylon, and I found yellow flowers, tiny butterflies, and almost ripe wild berries. I tried to taste test the wild berries but they were hard and too sour to enjoy. The yellow flowers looked like little pieces of sunlight, smiling up at the sun.

We stopped for lunch at a parking lot outside of a roller rink. The wind had picked up and it felt good to have the wind blowing our hair and providing a breeze for our faces. We had plenty of delicious food. People were seeing our signs and we were getting support for our message of peace.

I went to the roller rink for a bathroom break. We were offered the opportunity to use the restroom (or, in England, the loo) before the owner of the roller rink locked the building up and departed the premises. The inside of the building was dark and hard to navigate but I managed to get in and out without landing on my head or butt or any other body part. The owner of the roller rink said that, if she knew we were coming, she would have offered us a little roller skating break. That sounded like fun. On the other hand, it sounded like another way for me to land on my head, butt, or some other body part.

When I went inside, Kathy Kelly had a message for us. She let us know that fourteen persons were killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. The news hit hard. I wondered who those people were. We knew absolutely nothing about them, other than the fact that they were dead and they were killed by remote control (a drone strike). Later, we found out that thirteen persons were killed in two separate drone strikes in Pakistan. The government, of course, claims that the drone strikes result in dead militants but I’m not sure of what or who a militant is supposed to be and what makes them “militants,” as opposed to “soldiers.” Often, however, the “militants” turn out to be “civilians.” At any rate, I felt sad about this drone strike that hit these unidentified people. 

I wondered out loud if our actions of walking and carrying the message of peace had any meaning if the violence just kept continuing unabated. For whom were we sharing our message? Maya told me that we are helping people who see us and our signs become aware of the government’s violent actions. We can’t stop the government from committing these violent crimes but we can get people to think about it and to tell their friends.

The horror of the violence far away interrupted my enjoyment of my pretty world, so green and floral, filled with bees and butterflies. I felt that life needs to be about butterflies, not bombs. The flying things in the sky should bring joy and color, not death and destruction. 

Still, I wondered: why do I walk until my feet hurt? Does it matter to anyone besides me? If I can’t stop the drones from flying and from killing, what good am I doing? Why do I do this?

If not me, then who would share the message that peace is always a better option than war?

On the other hand, the government listens to no one…

But no, I will persevere because everyone has the right to enjoy peaceful lives with wild flowers, butterflies, and almost-ripe berries.

Brian said of the drone attacks, “We are not made to do this. We can’t keep doing this.” So far, 4,000 civilians have been killed in drone attacks. Their families and friend are left to mourn these very preventable deaths.

And so, as I walked with these thoughts dancing around in my head, we arrived in Kalamazoo. We went to a university to give a presentation and to eat a delicious potluck dinner. All of us walkers introduced ourselves and talked about what motivated us to continue walking. I talked about wild flowers, butterflies, and almost-ripe berries.

The next day, we walked down a bike path, and we left Kalamazoo. The walk was good. It was a day for walking and walking and walking some more. We sang and walked and the wind kicked up and the birds sang.  It was light and joyous and we returned to spend a second night in Kalamazoo.

The last day of the walk had arrived. It was June 14th. It was a beautiful day for walking. We walked to the restaurant that was hosting our lunch. Many people joined us to walk for the last time before we went our separate ways. We had truly become a strong community. We had large puppets and musicians and speakers. We shared food and stories and songs and hope that our sad, sorry world can become a kinder and gentler world, as George H.W. Bush suggested it could be. He also talked about 1,000 points of light, and, for sure, why not try to be a point of light?

It was time for me to leave the walk and go home. Kathy gave me a colorful cloth bag and a microphone to share with everyone who was there that day the things that were in my heart. After leaving to go to the Kalamazoo bus terminal, I felt sad to be separated from the group, but I felt happy that, in not quite two weeks, we had created a supportive community. I truly enjoyed every town and city that we had visited along the way from Chicago to Battle Creek. I felt grateful that I have strong legs and feet that will accept that sort of pounding. I felt grateful that I have maintained my sense of wonder and the spirit of adventure. I felt grateful for my sensitive soul, which, sometimes, I wish that I didn’t have.

At the bus terminal in Detroit, I saw a man with an Army Ranger insignia on his shirt. He seemed young but very disabled. He walked slowly with a cane, and one of his legs wouldn’t bend. Fortunately, employees at the bus terminal helped this man get to his bus. He is just one of too many casualties of war, everywhere.

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