Saturday, December 4, 2010
"I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace," she said. She wanted to stress "the importance of the message, not the messenger", so she never revealed her own name, as she walked and spoke for peace. This woman, wearing only the clothes seen in the photo, the tunic of which had pockets containing her only possessions, walked more than 25,000 miles over three decades, from 1953 till 1981, through all of the United States, the provinces of Canada and parts of Mexico.
She walked as a prayer, hoping to inspire others with her message of peace. Her message was simple: "This is the way of peace--Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." She walked till she was given shelter, and fasted till she was given food. She said she never had to go more than three or four days without a meal. Sometimes she slept in ditches and covered herself with leaves.
At the time of her death, Peace Pilgrim was walking across the country for the seventh time. She made what she called "the glorious transition to a freer life", in a head-on collision as she was being driven to a speaking engagement. Her friends wrote, in the dedication of the book they compiled to spread her message:
Free of earth, free as air,
Now you travel everywhere.
The book of her teachings, Peace Pilgrim, is available through Friends of Peace Pilgrim, 43480 Cedar Avenue, Hemet, California 92344. Here is one of Peace Pilgrim's poems.
World Without Man
Before me flowed the gurgling, placid river.
Behind me rose the tree-clad, peaceful mountain.
"Man says this is his world," I reflected,
"And yet there was a time when there was no man.
Did this old world exist the same without him?"
"I was flowing then," murmured the river.
"I was standing firm," whispered the mountain.
"Man now," I thought, "seems bent on self-destruction.
A million fiendish things he has invented-
Each one more deadly than the one before it.
If he succeeds in self-annihilation
Will this world he says is his go on without him?"
"I'll be flowing still," murmured the river.
"I'll be standing firm," whispered the mountain.