[by Jerry Stewart from Aldie, Virginia, written March 10]

The windmills outside Palm Springs beckoned to us this morning, their huge arms waving us onward. We spent the whole day walking with their company. The road ahead stretched into the desert. Seeing the marchers spreading out into the distance, chills ran down my spine. The sound of drumbeats from the Native American sunrise ceremony on the first morning of the march echoed in my ears. I imagined that each step I took was its own drumbeat, pounding in unison with those of the other marchers, creating a metaphorical rumble strong enough to shake this nation out of its slumber. I imagined that our footsteps could be felt in Washington, DC, very faint, but growing louder each day, with each step.

But first, we have to make it through the desert, and the desert is coming. That’s what we’ve been talking about at our last few camp meetings. It will be a real test of our resiliency as a group, it has been said, and if we make it through we will be a stronger, more cohesive community, and carry with us into Phoenix the power and energy the desert has the capacity to generate in our hearts. After the desert, perhaps we will indeed have the potential to bring about the tipping point on climate action the world so desperately needs right now.

Reflecting on the day, I have no doubt that this group is powerful enough to accomplish the great task we have set before ourselves. I see it in a smiling glance or a kind face after a tough logistics discussion. I feel it in countless hugs we share each day. I hear it in the voices united in debate and discussion. I recognize it as we chant, or share a moment of renewed purpose and energy when we speak to people on the street and they respond in positive ways.  I see it, also, in raised hands as we volunteer for the daily tasks of camp operation — our chefs, their prep cooks, the clean-up crew, the drivers, the trail scouts, the march sweeps, and everyone else who does countless tasks to make this march a success, some getting little sleep to make sure everything runs well. I’m truly in awe of everyone I’ve met.

The windmills waved us onward all day today. It was as if they were telling us that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re marching in the right direction, and that our path is true and good. At one point, Marie and I stopped and looked around, baffled by the beauty of everything we could see. The massive blades humming through the air against the backdrop of a light blue sky, a snow-capped mountain, a reddening earth.

Looking ahead of me down the road, turning around to look back, seeing each marcher trek forward, a word leapt into my mind — fearless. We are a fearless group marching to the beat of a special tune, a tune that is more human than the one we’ve been conditioned to walk to. We are creating this new tune as we go along. Its seeds will emerge with us from the desert, and when we converge with the people in Phoenix, I’m sure this new, fresh energy will be palpable in the air.