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Peace Pilgrim

by Sharilyn Ross on 03/31/11

People wonder about a lot of things: bugs, snow storms, travel, snakes. These are great things to wonder about. I would personally hope that a bug could escape a snowstorm while getting out of the path of a preying snake. See how I did that? Okay then...BUT...sometimes, as the winds of wonder blow, it's a person that is the very essence of wonder. At least that's what I thought when I read about Peace Pilgrim.

She was in her eighties when she passed from this life into the next.  Most who came in contact with her knew her only as "Peace Pilgrim."  Those who had an ongoing association with her simply called her "Peace."

Peace began her mission in the 1950s, gently and physically protesting the Korean War by walking across the country with little more than the clothes on her back, a comb, map, toothbrush, some correspondence, and a small Bible.  She spent almost 30 years zigzagging across our great country with her facile message - a simple prayer:


“This is the way of peace - to overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”


Peace reminded us that a pilgrimage is a gentle journey of prayer and example.  She believed she was a Pilgrim and a wanderer and vowed to remain a wanderer until mankind learned the way of peace.  She chose to walk until given shelter and “fast” until given food.  Peace literally walked her talk and talked about peace with anyone who had a heart to listen.

We can’t help taking notice of Peace Pilgrim and her work because they serve as a reminder to us to seek peace, show peace, and by example to live in and fulfill our deepest longings to experience peace.

Over time, many prolific writers have shared their thoughts concerning peace. In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower commented that "people [will] want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."  Just before the Vietnam War Pope John XXIII, in 1963, stated that, "The true and solid peace of nations consists not in equality of arms but in mutual trust alone." 

The pope was a constant and committed advocate for peace, in a time leading up to the painful tragedy of war.

Living peacefully was not a new idea that came as a result of great wars.  In the Bible, Jesus encouraged us to love each other with these simple words: "blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." 

Peace transcends all time, all space.  To choose peace is to choose harmony and harmony is an inside job – it begins within us.  We become of greater service to others and to God when we choose to be kind, show mercy, express love and work together; this is what peace looks like.  What will we choose?  If we took a moment, one small speck of time to express what having a peaceful life means to us, what would it look like?  How do we express peace, model peace, and encourage others to consider living lives of peace?  How can our family members share peace with each other?  What can our communities do to prompt peace?  What can our government do to follow the path of peace?

Right before our country suffered the loss of President John F. Kennedy, he spoke to the United Nations.  His words never rang more true than now.  He said: "Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures."  President Kennedy was an advocate for a more peace-committed world.  What peace legacy will you leave behind?



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