"This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love." Peace Pilgrim
From 1953 to 1981, beginning at the age of 45, a woman walked across North American, more than 25,000 miles on a mission for peace. Her name was Mildred Lisette Norman and was she was known as the “Peace Pilgrim.” Ms. Norman was a spiritual teacher (non-denominational), pacifist, mystic, and a vegetarian. Regarding her mission for peace, she vowed to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.” She walked across the United States for twenty-eight years.
Her fascinating journey began when she experienced a profound spiritual awakening. She states, "Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountaintop experience - the first glimpse of what the life of inner peace was like... The most important part of it was not the phenomena: the important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation. Not only all human beings - I knew before that all human beings are one. But now I knew also a oneness with the rest of creation. The creatures that walk the earth and the growing things of the earth. The air, the water, the earth itself. And, most wonderful of all, a oneness with that which permeates all and binds all together and gives life to all. A oneness with that which many would call God."
Along the way, she met thousands of people from every walk of life. She was also interviewed on countless radio and TV stations across the country, as well as speaking at universities, high schools, civic clubs, churches, and more. Ms. Norman was always more than willing to share her wisdom, message, and humor.
On July 7, 1981 while being driven to a speaking engagement, the car she was riding in was hit head on and she died instantly. She was 73. Because she was so well-loved by so many, her death was a devastating shock to all who knew and loved her. Her message touched and changed thousands of lives.
After her death, a small group of friends decided to put together a book about her message and what she stood for. Writings for the book were obtained from her own words, newsletters, conversations, correspondence, and talks taped from many people over the years, as well as articles and other materials written about her. The book is titled “Peace Pilgrim” and can be downloaded free at www.peacepilgrim.com/book/ebooks/PeacePilgrimBook.pdf. I would highly recommend reading more about this spectacular human being.
The Peace Pilgrim set a great example for us as to how we can achieve peace in a world of chaos. When I read of her journey, it’s easy for me to think that my journey is nothing compared to hers and that I have so much more work to do to bring love and peace to the world, but she gives me something to aspire to. I do know that I will take her message to heart and work harder on myself because it is only when we find peace within ourselves that we can find and bring peace to the world.
There is a lot of chaos in the world right now, especially when it comes to religion and politics. It’s easy to lose hope and to think that things will never change. But they can change and that change begins with each of us.
In the words of the Peace Pilgrim, I leave you with more of her beautiful messages:
“Of course, I love everyone I meet. How could I fail to? Within everyone is the spark of God. I am not concerned with racial or ethnic background or the color of one’s skin; all people look to me like shining lights! I see in all creatures the reflection of God. All people are my kinfolk—people to me are beautiful! We people of the world need to find ways to get to know one another…for then we will recognize that our likenesses are so much greater than our differences, however great our differences may seem. Every cell, every human being, is of equal importance and has work to do in this world.”
“In order to help usher in the golden age we must see the good in people. We must know it is there, no matter how deeply it may be buried. Yes, apathy is there and selfishness is there – but good is there also. It is not through judgment that the good can be reached, but through love and faith.”
“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 24, 2015.