Prayer walk planned

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
This image was made during a past lakeside prayer meeting.

CLEWISTON — There will be a “Healing Lake Okeechobee Prayer Walk,” hosted by clean-water advocates Betty Osceola of Ochopee and Holley Rauen of Fort Myers, from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, beginning at 6 p.m. that Saturday from John Stretch Memorial Park on U.S. 27.

Many people are already signed up as “Going” on this hike around the Big Lake, with hundreds more “Interested,” via the event’s public Facebook page. It is being put on by the public group Honoring Our Sacred Waters.

Ms. Rauen is a retired public health nurse in Lee County and former clinical coordinator at Lee Memorial Health Systems, midwife and “evolutionary activist” who volunteers at the SWFL Pachamama Alliance. Mrs. Osceola is an Ochopee native.

Not for the faint of heart

The event is described in detail on the organizers’ various Facebook pages, distilled here:

• “This is a prayer walk, not a protest. Lake Okeechobee is in great need of healing along with the need to heal our relationship with her and the waters that connect all of us. Until we acknowledge we need to help her heal, she and in turn ‘us’ as part of the greater ecosystem here in Florida will continue to suffer. We must heal ourselves and in turn our relationships with water that connects all of Creator’s children.

• “This walk will take seven days. It will be an approximately 110-mile hike. And anyone who chooses to partake in the walk must be self-sufficient; there will not be any shuttles; we will sleep in the open where we stop for the night. You must prepare your own pack of snacks (lite but with high carb value) and water to sustain you. There are rest areas around the lake where water bottles can be refilled.

• “You must be able to at least walk 15 to 20 miles per day. That means once you are with us for a day or the entire time you will have to be committed for that day or days.”

Synchronized global prayer

There’s also a link on Ms. Osceola’s Facebook page to a synchronized prayer page where people can “add your voice to this collective prayer that will coincide with the seven-day prayer walk” — at

Preparations are urged

“Supplies, supplies; the walk is getting near: You must come prepared. Your supplies will be your responsibility. Once up on the dike, there’s no way off unless at an access point, and those are very far apart. We stop for the evenings, and those stops are not going to be near an access point.

“(Bring a) phone charger. Unless you bring a solar charger, you will need to turn on and off your phone only when you absolutely need to use it.”

There are also a couple of rules of the path:

“Our prayer walks are done mostly in silence and talking is allowed only on breaks. We will teach you how to communicate with few words and hand signals. The park does not allow overnight or extended parking.”

Wrote Ms. Osceola: “I live three hours away, but family is dropping me off and picking me up on the final day of the walk. Please make sure to make arrangements to get dropped off and picked up. I expect us to walk at the minimum 15 miles per day or a little longer. If you cannot walk 15 miles daily or for at least one day, you may want not want to walk with us. There are very long stretches of walk where there isn’t parking access, especially on the west side (of the lake). If you plan to only walk a day or two with us, the eastern side has more access points.

Pack light for backpacking

“Look at the route on Google Earth. It clearly shows you the boat landings and car access points. This way you can plan to have someone meet us to pick you up if you’re not doing the whole walk. We plan to break about 15 to 20 minutes every 5 or 6 miles to rest each day. We will start at John Stretch Park head east and make our way around the lake.

“Think smart about what you pack to bring, as compact as possible. If you are not comfortable with wearing the same clothes for seven days, and most likely not showering, think long about it. (If you have a friend or family that is willing to be your support system and drop you a change of clothes or replenishment supplies along the way, then go for it).”

More ideas about supplies for the hike are posted on the various Facebook pages dealing with the event.

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