Friends of
Peace Pilgrim

A Non-Profit, Tax-Exempt, All Volunteer Organization
PO Box 2207, Shelton, CT 06484
  tel. (203) 926-1581

Online Newsletter

Winter 2006 - Number 47

download PDF

Friends of Peace Pilgrim Home || Newsletter Index

"Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, hatred with love" -- Peace Pilgrim

Index - Page1 - Page 2 - Page 3

Peaceful Pathways Sanctuary - Update from Oklahoma City
Spirit of Peace Van Finds a New Home

Peaceful Pathways Sanctuary: Spreading the Seeds of Peace
by Cheryl Canfield

It was my great fortune in life to meet Peace Pilgrim when I was a young woman, and to come to know her as a beloved friend and mentor. It was my further good fortune to accompany her on the only two inspirational and educational retreats she led before her death. The first was to Alaska in 1979 where 18 of us started out from Anchorage, traveling in three rented cars. We camped out and cooked vegetarian meals over a campfire. The second retreat was to Hawaii the following year where once again we caravanned, sleeping and eating outdoors. She told friends after-wards, “It’s just a beautiful retreat situation. We’re together for a couple of weeks amid beautiful surroundings and everybody comes back inspired and uplifted – everyone ready to work for their own good cause.” Just weeks before she died, Peace wrote to ask if I would accompany her the following summer when she planned to lead two retreats in the Pennsylvania area. I immediately wrote back that I would be honored to assist in any way. She never received my letter as “life’s last glorious adventure” intervened.

I remember asking her once if a group of us could take her to India (a place we thought would be both inspiring and exciting). She laughed and told us her mission was in the United States – the most powerful nation – which could be leading the world in a positive direction if enough of us got together on that.

Another time I asked if she would come to my home and share her message and inspiration in a retreat situation. She said she would consider it. Peace died before I could organize that retreat, but the opportunity and place to gather people together with a spiritual focus has come to fruition in its own time. Peaceful Pathways, my new home and the new home of the Peace Pilgrim library and archives, celebrated an opening dedication in April of 2005. Located in Copperopolis (in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California), the beautiful 15-acre property has rolling hills and oak trees, a seasonal lake (Flower Lake borders the property through early summer), and a striking three-story geodesic dome.

In an environment that resonates peacefulness, it seems a perfect place to spread the seeds of peace. In that spirit, and inspired by my beloved mentor, Peace Pilgrim, Peaceful Pathways will be hosting its first three retreat workshops in spring 2006. The first, Profound Healing: Making Peace with Your Body and Your Life, is based on my book, Profound Healing. The second, Steps Toward Inner Peace: Finding Your Power and Your Voice, is based on Peace Pilgrim’s steps, and the third, Purpose and Meaning: Exploring the Heart of Your Life’s Mission.

Cheryl can be contacted at:

Cheryl Canfield
Box 423, Copperopolis, CA 95228
www.profoundhealing.com
cherylcan@aol.com

*****

"My inner peace remains in spite of any outward thing. Only insofar as I remain in harmony can I draw others into harmony, and so much more harmony is needed before the world can find peace."

Peace Pilgrim


Update from Oklahoma City         (top)

What has it been like to volunteer at the Friends of Peace Pilgrim Center? Board member Bruce Nichols posed this question to some of our Oklahoma City friends and asked them to write about their experiences during the last year of planning, preparation, and now working in our new office.

*****

Sue Tarr has been the organizational champion of our Oklahoma City office. Her ability to coordinate activities and motivate others has been indispensable to the success of our relocation. Her energy and enthusiasm for Peace Pilgrim are an inspiration to all. She and husband Tom bring valuable skills and experience to our all-volunteer staff. Sue writes:

Flow is the word that comes up to describe experiences bringing the center here — synchronistic, serendipitous flow! From the beginning, it has felt like adult play.

The flow began with a conversation with Gary Guthrie, long time volunteer, about the center looking for a new home. We told Gary, “You should check out Oklahoma! Californians think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they see how much their money can buy here.” The next day Friends of Peace Pilgrim board member Bruce Nichols phoned to discuss possibilities.

Peace Pilgrim walked through Oklahoma on her first pilgrimage and visited the state regularly during her subsequent journeys. There have been many articles and photos in local newspapers and she had established quite a few friends in the area.

A group of us decided to meet for lunch on an ongoing basis and set an intention to bring the center to Oklahoma City. Group member Joe Glosemeyer spoke with his daughter, Talitha, a member of the board of Trustees at Epworth United Methodist Church. Talitha’s enthusiasm about bringing the center to Oklahoma City excited her fellow church members, who then voted to offer the center office space in their historic 1903 building.

More people inspired by Peace Pilgrim’s words kept showing up to join the planning group. They were willing to commit in advance to volunteering if the center chose to move to Oklahoma City. In March 2005 group member Lakshmi Ramgopal went to California to help the Friends of Peace Pilgrim Center move to a temporary office in Placerville.

The flow continued when Bruce and Richard Polese came to Oklahoma City in May of 2005 to visit the proposed location and meet with our group. We felt very connected and aligned with their intentions. Volunteers had already pledged over seventy-five hours per month if the center moved to Oklahoma City. Additional support seemed likely from Oklahoma City University in the form of their intern program and from the nearby Classen High School for the Arts and their community service projects. We were thrilled to hear about these possibilities since one of our intentions is to take Peace Pilgrim’s message into the schools. She’s a part of American History!

Serendipity continued the day the moving van arrived. After hours of unloading boxes and carrying them up to our second floor office, a group of six teens from Classen High School walked across the parking lot. “Would you have a half hour for some community service?” I asked. “We’d love to!” They enthusiastically responded.

In no time they’d lugged the last 100 boxes to the second floor, making it look like “child’s play”. We also had an opportunity to share information about Peace Pilgrim with them.

We have had much local support and been well received in the community. The Interfaith Alliance and Religions United have been especially supportive and encouraging. Jeff Hamilton, President of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma told us, “Although I have not worked at the Peace Pilgrim Center, I am delighted that it has been opened so that her legacy can be accessed by those who have heard of her or who would like to become more informed. Many years ago I was able to meet with her when she was in Oklahoma City. She visited my home. It was a challenging experience. So pleased that the Peace Pilgrim Center is here.”

All this flow has us wondering if Peace Pilgrim is smoothing our road, providing help from beyond. Now that Kathy Miller has joined her on the other side, we definitely feel like we have the “dynamic duo’s” support! Perhaps this is why orders for materials have increased dramatically recently.

Kelly Osborne first heard about Peace Pilgrim almost twenty years ago when his aunt shared a copy of Peace Pilgrim with him. He wrote:

In early October of ‘05 a friend of mine asked me if I had ever heard of Peace Pilgrim. I told him I had but it had been 10 years since I had even thought about the lady. Over the next couple of days I looked at the Peace Pilgrim web site, and looked all over Oklahoma City for a copy of the book. My search for the book proved fruitless but as I looked a little deeper into the web site and read the newsletter, I found out that Friends of Peace Pilgrim would be moving the distribution office just ten minutes down the road from my home here in Oklahoma City!

I made my way down to Epworth Church and found Sue Tarr literally waiting at the locked door that I needed to enter to find a copy of the book I was seeking. I went upstairs to find not one, but thousands of books along with a handful of amazing volunteers who would be shouldering the load of running the office and getting out the Peace Pilgrim literature. Since that fateful day I have met with many people who knew Peace Pilgrim and were profoundly changed by her message and wisdom. I now have the honor of being a part of this organization of volunteers whose goal is to spread the message of peace.

I have had nothing but shining moments in my association with Friends of Peace Pilgrim and look forward to a lifetime of interaction. Thanks to all of you who are responsible for Friends of Peace Pilgrim being in Oklahoma City and to all of you who originally created this organization. I am in your debt.

Melissa O’Neil offered this insight:

A prisoner wrote a letter, a sad, hopeless letter that he didn't think anyone would respond to. He was asking for guidance, for acknowledgment, for anything. That letter gave me pause. It made me realize how far-reaching Peace Pilgrim's message is, and how many people are seeking something that will inspire them, that will reach into their guts and make them feel the true meaning of love and inner peace. When you hold that kind of message in your hand, the very least you can do is stick a stamp on it and spread it around.

Despite a demanding personal schedule Maurice Hoover has been a regular at our office. He wrote:

Volunteering with the Friends of Peace Pilgrim is a wonderful blessing in my life. To have the opportunity to share her wisdom with people all over the planet is very meaningful for me. While I am not currently able to serve in the completely selfless way that Peace did, volunteering does give me the ability to serve in some small way amidst the busyness of the rest of my life.

There is always at least one letter or email that touches me so deeply that it brings tears to my eyes as I read about the ways in which Peace's message touches people, and the way they in turn reach out to touch those around them in their own special way. I get a palpable heartfelt sense of the beautiful connection that we all share at the core of who we really are underneath it all.

At our training session, Bruce said that he views our work as being a continuation of Peace's pilgrimage. I think about that every time I walk up the stairs to our office. May we all find ways in our daily life to continue the pilgrimage, wherever we may be.

Shyamala Vinekar’s shared this account:

Volunteering for Friends of Peace Pilgrim has been a joyous experience. We began meeting at the restaurant for lunch to explore the center moving to Oklahoma City’s historic Epworth Building. At our first meeting everyone agreed that the center office would need a lot of ‘fixing up’.

I’ve always wanted to learn remodeling, so it was a great opportunity for me. Gary, Maurice and Tom taught me how to fill the cracks and crevices and sand the walls. The highlight of the fixing up was painting the walls with a roller. I enjoyed everything I did, plus being with the nicest people of the Friends of Peace Pilgrim.

Next, I made curtains. Sue and I had the greatest time, enthusiastically shopping for the curtain fabric, going to different shops and calling other shops for price checks. I think we enjoyed it so much that we forgot we were hungry or thirsty. Every moment was fun. We had so much energy!

Now I work at the office every Saturday. Every week I look forward to Saturday coming. Working on the database and packing the orders and laughing with Dorothy Danen is exciting. I have loved everything I’ve done for Friends of Peace Pilgrim. In fact, I am thankful to everybody for this opportunity. The friends are great, the volunteers are great and the cause is the greatest.

Peter Pham has this to say about his experiences volunteering at the center:

I am blessed to know Peace and all her friends. Her message soaks in and purifies me. I have shared the message to collectively cultivate world peace. The first step is to harness inner peace. I am grateful and blessed to know Peace's messages and to be a volunteer and have the opportunities to interact with wonderful friends of Peace Pilgrim. I have come to believe strongly that the key to happiness is the cultivation of simplicity and inner peace. I believe that world peace is inevitable.

Gerry Clink hosted Peace Pilgrim and corresponded with her for many years. He shared these thoughts:

Becoming a volunteer with the Friends of Peace Pilgrim has brought a new positivism into my life reminding me of the excitement I felt when I met and corresponded with Peace Pilgrim thirty-eight years ago.

At that time, I thought the World was on the brink of a new spiritualism. Like the present day, the population of the United States was split in half with war hawks and peaceniks over the Viet Nam war. Peace Pilgrim injected consciousness of Peace wherever she went. Her life and style evaporated the cloud of materialism around her.

Following her quantum leap to a higher dimension, I got back to the business of materialism. In my private practice of rehabilitation counseling, I fell into the ego’s effort to make a mark in the world, build a retirement program and lead the life touted to be great in the Reagan era: ‘Greed is good.’ I suppressed the reason I left my meteorology career and got into rehabilitation counseling to begin with, to be of service to humanity. The way of Peace Pilgrim fell from my consciousness to surface only occasionally. My spirituality suffered.

Then I joined a study group. I mentioned Peace Pilgrim in the group one evening, and Sue Tarr picked up on it. The next thing I knew, I was helping Sue and other like-minded people put together a proposal to have the Friends of Peace Pilgrim Center brought to Oklahoma City. Engaging in the effort to bring the distribution activity of the Friends of Peace Pilgrim to Oklahoma City ignited my enthusiasm to again experience inner peace and the growth of peace in the world.

My volunteerism with the Friends of Peace Pilgrim has reawakened my consciousness of inner peace. Following twenty-four years of dormant activity, I now find that the life and teachings of Peace Pilgrim are even more meaningful and vivid than when she was walking and teaching.”

*****

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

~ Howard Thurman, Civil Rights Leader~


Spirit of Peace Van Finds a New Home         (top)
by Bruce Nichols

One of the tasks left unfinished when the rental truck pulled out of Placerville bound for Oklahoma City was the disposition of the “Spirit of Peace” Volkswagen Bus.

In 1993 this 1977 vintage vehicle was used by filmmakers Clair Townsend, David Mueller, and Gigi Orlowski to cris-cross the United States interviewing people that had known Peace Pilgrim. The bus took its name from the “Spirit of Peace” documentary that would come out of this effort.

This turned out to be an incredibly timely project since a number of Peace’s family members would soon make their own transitions and the important historical footage recorded by the film crew might never have been captured.

After that project concluded, the bus was passed on to Friends of Peace Pilgrim volunteer Jim Goodnow who was embarking in 1996 on his own cross country odyssey collecting signatures for a millennium peace scroll (FoPP newsletter #26 Fall/Winter 1996). He was in Ohio in December of that year visiting Dean Kahler, one of the students who had been wounded in the infamous Kent State shootings of April 1970, when the van’s motor seized. Jim managed to purchase another vehicle with which to continue his journey. Part of the purchase price was the title to the disabled van.

And that was the last that was heard of the “Spirit of Peace” VW bus until 2003 when the well traveled vehicle rolled back into the driveway of the Peace Pilgrim center in Somerset, California. The owner and Ohio resident Anna Swearingen had often wondered about the large “Spirit of Peace” logo painted across the sides of the vehicle. An internet search led her to the Friends of Peace Pilgrim website where she learned of the van’s history and decided that she should give it back to us. She and a friend drove the bus all the way from Ohio to California to make that happen.

For the next two years the bus sat, idle and unregistered, first at the Peace Pilgrim Center, and later when that property was sold, at the home of our friend Raven Spezza in Placerville.

While the bus was sitting in California, Friends of Peace Pilgrim board member Bruce Nichols was participating in two Peace Abbey sponsored Stonewalks (www.stonewalk.org). The “Spirit of Peace” crew had visited Sherborn, Massachusetts while on its 1993 documentary journey to film the Peace Abbey and interview its director Lewis Randa. Peace Pilgrim had been posthumously presented the Abbey’s prestigious Courage of Conscience award a year earlier. A display case at the Peace Abbey holds one of her tunics, a pair of her well-worn shoes and other memorabilia.

When Lewis heard that the bus was languishing in California he immediately expressed an interest in acquiring it as a shuttle vehicle for the Peace Abbey. Friends of Peace Pilgrim decided to donate it to this good cause. Unregistered and with a few mechanical problems, the only obstacle was how to get it to Massachusetts. A few weeks before our final move to Oklahoma, a broker was contacted to arrange truck transport for the vehicle.
Initially this seemed to be a quick and easy solution. But as the weeks dragged by and several expected pick-ups fell through it looked as if the van might never find its way east.

By mid November our equipment and inventory had been packed up and driven half way across the country and our new office was up and running in Oklahoma City. But the van still sat in a field in Placerville.

Don and Dawn Sage and the van
Don and Dawn with the "Spirit of Peace"
Then, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, Bruce came home from a few days away to find a message from the broker on his answering machine. A husband and wife truck driving team was in California headed east with room for the van. They needed an immediate response since they were anxious to be on the road and had the offer of an alternative cargo if they did not hear from us. The message was already a couple of days old and, since it was the weekend, it would be two more days till the broker could be reached.

Fortunately, the next message on the answering machine was from Don, the trucker, who also left a cell phone number.

Bruce immediately called and spoke with Don and wife Dawn and found out that they had been unexpectedly delayed in Fresno on the way to the alternate pick up and would still rather get the van in Placerville since it was closer and on a more direct route east toward their home in New York State.

The next morning they were loading the van at Raven’s. Before they left, she gave them a copy of the Peace Pilgrim book which Dawn read as they traveled east. Dawn fell in love with Peace and her message. She later would say that she felt that fate had delayed them in California and that they were meant to bring the “Spirit of Peace” back to Massachusetts.

On December 12th a fifty-three foot long car trailer was skillfully backed into the narrow driveway of a snowy Peace Abbey and the much traveled “Spirit of Peace” van rolled down the ramp to its new home. Don and Dawn had a tour of the Abbey and shared the story of their journey and the effect Peace Pilgrim had already had on their lives. Bruce gave them a copy of the original “Spirit of Peace” documentary before they departed for the run back home to upstate New York.

The Peace Abbey plans to do a complete restoration on the bus and stock it with Peace Pilgrim books and booklets for the guests who will be met by “The Spirit of Peace” when the journey to the Abbey by rail or bus.
There is a final bit of information saved for the end of this article. Don and Dawn’s last name is Sage and their trucking business is called “Sage Enterprises”. The footage shot in 1993 for the “Spirit of Peace” docu-mentary was the foundation on which the latest documentary about Peace Pilgrim was built. Its title: “Peace Pilgrim: An American Sage Who Walked Her Talk.” We always refer to it simply as “Sage”.



 (top)

Index - Page1 - Page 2 - Page 3

Friends of Peace Pilgrim Home || Newsletter Index

Friends of Peace Pilgrim
PO Box 2207
Shelton, Connecticut 06484

tel. (203) 926-1581

revised May 10, 2006