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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”
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
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:
Box 423, Copperopolis, CA 95228
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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”.