We are a people who long for peace.  Peace in the world, peace in our country, peace in our own hearts. And yet we often feel anything but peaceful, and we often act and react in ways that seem antithetical to the thing we say we want the most: Peace. It  often seems as if the things we say and do produce effects that are exactly opposite of the peace we say we want. We, as much as anyone else, seem to be able to make people mad, instead of peaceful; we seem capable of filling other people’s hearts with hatred, scorn, rage.  We seem to be able to hurt others, and to be hurt by them, all the while we keep saying and believing that all we want is peace.

Are we doing something wrong?  Are there better ways to accomplish peace?

When I have big questions like that, I turn to people who live now, or have lived, as exemplars of better ways.  

There have been, there are now, peaceful people in this world.  How did they-how do they–do it? Their inner peace seems to radiate out from them and touch the hearts of people they encounter, so they seem to spread at least temporary peace wherever they go, giving people who are in turmoil a taste of what real peace is like.

Can we do that, too? Can we touch our hearts, our family’s hearts, the hearts of friends and enemies so that peace walks where we walk?

I believe so, but I also believe that peace must be the thing we want the most, over anything else in life.  I believe that to live peace we must be willing to “sacrifice” anything within us that is not peaceful. Because I believe that, I look for help in how to do it. To that end, I search for and then study and try to emulate my betters, my “elder brothers” and “elder sisters” who have stepped out ahead of me, ahead of all of us, to follow the path of peace, and who then generously look back to tell us exactly how they did it, so that we may find the inspiration and encouragement to do it, too.

This series

There is a little pamphlet that is one of my “Bibles.” It is called Steps Toward Inner Peace and it is offered free of copyright by the woman who was/is known as Peace Pilgrim. Starting Monday, and for every day after that until we finish,I am going to reprint that entire booklet here at BooMan, bit by bit, so those who are interested can read along with me and study how an ordinary woman became a living, walking (definitely walking!) mentor for peace.

I hope you will join me on this journey of reading and discussion that is intended to lead to peace-filled action in the world.  My hope is that by the end of it we, ourselves, will be further along the way toward the peace we say we want more than anything else in the world, for the world, and which I believe we do want. Our goal in doing this will be a good one: to align our words with our actions, our hopes with our hearts, and to be the peace the world needs so desperately now.

Coming Monday: the first of our Steps Toward Peace.

(Reprinted, with permission, from the pamphlet)

Peace Pilgrim 1908-1981

On her pilgrimage from 1953 to 1981:

A pilgrimage is a gentle journey of prayer and example.  My walking is first of all a prayer for peace.  If you give your life as a prayer you intensify the prayer beyond all measure.

    Peace Pilgrim walked more than 25,000 miles across this country spreading her message- “This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”  Carrying in her tunic pockets her only possessions, she vowed, “I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”  She talked with people on dusty roads and city streets, to church, college, civic groups, on TV and radio, discussing peace within and without.

    Her pilgrimage covered the entire peace picture: peace among nations, groups, individuals, and the very important inner peace-because that is where peace begins.

    She believed that world peace would come when enough people attain inner peace.  Her life and work showed that one person with inner peace can make a significant contribution to world peace.

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