Welcome to My World: Lesson on life from ‘Peace Pilgrim’

“The way of Peace is the way of Love.

Love is the greatest power on earth.

It heals all things.” - Peace Pilgrim

Many years ago I read the book, “Peace Pilgrim,” about an extraordinary woman whose simple message was peace. The book affected me so much, I bought a poster, of the above saying, by Peace Pilgrim to hang on the wall of my study.

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Peace Pilgrim was the oldest of three children, born on July 7, 1908, near Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, on a chicken farm. As Peace Pilgrim, she felt her early life unimportant. She wished only to promote the message, not the messenger. Her sister, Helene, states this of the family, “We were brought up without religion or politics. We were taught to think for ourselves, not follow the sheep.”

At the age of 25 in 1933, she married Stanley Ryder. She states, “I had been led to believe money and possessions would insure me a life of happiness and peace of mind.” They divorced in 1946.

In time, Mildred (Peace Pilgrim) realized this material lifestyle didn’t make her happy. Yet, she didn’t know what it was she wanted.

She was in her 30s when she had a “spiritual awakening,” she describes, “I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life - to dedicate my life - to service. And so I went into the 2nd phase of my life.”

This experience of God’s love became her turning point in which she began to “live to give instead of living to get.” She became involved in the Women’s Int’l League of Peace and Freedom, started in 1915, with women who got together to study to eliminate war and have permanent peace.

The following was her spiritual practice for 15 years.

Four Preparations: Assume right attitude toward life, Live good beliefs, Find your place in the Life Pattern, and Simplify life to bring inner and outer well-being into harmony.

Four Purifications: Purification of the bodily temple, Purification of thoughts, Purification of the desires, and Purification of motives.

Four Relinquishments: Relinquishment of self-will, Relinquishment of feeling of separateness, Relinquishment of attachments, and Relinquishment of all negative feelings.

Prior to her life-long walk for peace in 1952, she set out and became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season.

Before her next venture, a Pilgrimage for Peace, she changed her name legally to Peace Pilgrim and vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter (by strangers) and fasting until given food.” She believed in the goodness of people and that goodness could be found in everyone.

Her only possessions were the clothes she wore every day, which consisted of blue pants and shirt, and a blue tunic which read “PEACE PILGRIM” on the front and “25,000 MILES ON FOOT FOR PEACE” on the back. In her pocket she carried a pen, comb, toothbrush, and a map.

Her Pilgrimage for Peace started on January 1, 1953 after being asked to lead the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. From there she walked from coast to coast for the next 28 years.

She was in her 7th cross-country trek for peace, when at the age of 73, on July 7, 1981, she was killed in a car accident, on her way to a speaking engagement. She was cremated and her ashes were interred on a family plot near Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

Her legacy lives on. The organization, Friends of Peace Pilgrim, have published over 400,000 copies of the book, “Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” and over one and a half million copies of the booklet, “Steps Toward Inner Peace.” The book has been translated into over 20 languages.

The following are a few of her inspiring sayings.

To attain inner peace you must actually give your life, not just your possessions. When you at last give your life---bringing into alignment your beliefs and the way you live them, and only then can you begin to find inner peace.

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.

Before the tongue can speak, it must have lost the power to wound.

Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return.