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Dear Friends of Peace Pilgrim - Peace Pilgrim's 100th Birthday Celebration
Peace Pilgrim's 101st
Dear Friends of Peace Pilgrim
As February stretches into March and the days begin to noticeably lengthen, we are reminded of the cycles of life and the constant river of change that washes through the midst of all things.
Since our last newsletter, a summer, a fall, and most of a winter have gifted us with the beauty of the turning seasons. Lush greens were transformed into flaming fall colors which gave way to the quiet browns and monochrome whites of winter. How amazing it is to witness these transitions. They remind us of the beautiful way in which life is a series of continuations rather than beginnings and endings.
Here at Friends of Peace Pilgrim we are also aware of how the pilgrimage that Peace began on January 1, 1953 continues in the world. While we do some of the basic work of printing books and booklets and responding to the letters, email, and phone calls of our friends, it is really a much more widespread and grass-roots effort that is the substance of the continuing journey of Peace. All of you who have been touched, inspired, and motivated by Peace Pilgrim are now a part of the pilgrimage. You have found personal and innovative ways to create more peace in your lives, among your families, and in your communities. You have shared your enthusiasm for Peace Pilgrim’s message by telling your friends about her and offering them books, booklets, and other materials. It has been a wonderful partnership and without your involvement, Peace’s message would not have traveled the world reaching millions. Thank you for helping keep the pilgrimage alive.
In this issue of our newsletter you will find articles about some significant events from the past year. Peace’s hometown of Egg Harbor City, NJ hosted a 100th birthday celebration last July. All who participated had a wonderful time and if you missed the event, the 101st is now being planned. A celebration honoring our dear friends and mentors John and Ann Rush was held at the Peace Abbey. You will also find information about our video collection, now available on DVD. And, of course, there are letters from friends, near and far, sharing their stories of Peace Pilgrim’s influence on their lives. We look forward to hearing from you also.
In Peace and Friendship,
Cheryl Canfield, Richard Polese, Mayte Picco-Kline,
Jeff Blom, Bruce Nichols
The Friends of Peace Pilgrim Board
“One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news. Many people, giving some of their time, can make history.” Peace Pilgrim
Peace Pilgrim's 100th Birthday Celebration (top)
by Cheryl Canfield
Peace Pilgrim’s sister Helene Young, Officer Aylwin, and Cheryl Canfield
at the Peace Pilgrim 100th birthday peace walk.
So many memories of Peace Pilgrim remain fresh and clear in my mind. When I saw her for the last time just before she made her “glorious transition to a freer life” she was so full of vitality it seemed she might actually outlive me - and I had yet to reach 40! Despite the fact that she was silver-haired and weathered, she exuded an ageless energy. During one of our last talks she said she would take a sabbatical after her seventh pilgrimage route, and that following that the form of her pilgrimage was going to change. She wasn’t sure yet what that change would be, but it’s clear now. Instead of her vibrant physical presence, her pilgrimage and message is continuing and spreading around the world through the book Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, the Steps Toward Inner Peace booklet, and the many videos now collected in DVD form - all free of charge, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers.
Attending the celebration of Peace’s 100th birthday in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, this past July was another opportunity to experience the incredible impact her message is still having on people. I, and several others, were hosted by Helene Young, Peace’s younger and also vibrantly energetic (93 year old!), sister. The festivities began with a film on the evening of July 18, Peace’s birthday. We gathered at the Charles L. Spragg School for a public viewing of the documentary, An American Sage Who Walked Her Talk. Following the film, Bruce Nichols presented the town with a Peace Pilgrim Peace Pole, which will be erected at the local middle school when it moves into its soon-to-be completed new campus - where children of her community will be able to learn about the inspiring life of this native daughter. Filmmakers Mark Skelton and Lee Waterworth, who are working on producing a film dramatization of Peace’s life, were also in attendance and filming.
The following morning 125 people gathered for a two-mile intergenerational walk that took us past several Egg Harbor City historical sites, including the childhood home of Peace Pilgrim. That afternoon the community gathered for an old-fashioned picnic at Peace Pilgrim Park. As John Galloway, who helped install the clay tiles made by children from the Ritenburg School that surround a serene statue of Peace Pilgrim had to say, “Peace Pilgrim Park is a great place for someone to pause for quiet reflection. The city has given you a place where the world can contemplate your message of inner peace. Happy Birthday, Peace Pilgrim. May your actions inspire others to pursue your dream.” The day ended at sunset with the formation of a human peace sign - made all the more fun and challenging by the breeze, which kept blowing out our candles as we posed for a group picture.
For many, this was the first of what will likely be a memorable tradition of honoring the life and work of Peace Pilgrim. Lynn Horng attended all of the events that weekend and said, “You could just feel that a very special group, although many, including us, were strangers to most others, had come together with a common desire for peace. Happy Birthday, Peace Pilgrim. May your memory never perish as long as the earth endures!” And other new dear friends write personal messages. From Colby: “I'm immensely gratified to know of Peace Pilgrim. I want to believe that eventually the peace movement can prevail and humans can live in love all the time.” And from Doug: “We in Egg Harbor City are keeping her image alive. Personally, I have spoken about Peace Pilgrim and her 100th Birthday Celebration to several civic and fraternal organizations. At our last city council meeting, I mentioned that the fire and passion she left in me has spread not only to peace, but to our environment, suggesting incentives for green power and utility construction. Personally I would like to thank Peace Pilgrim for bringing Colby Tippins and me together. We visit her grave on occasion and today Colby left a hand-painted stone thanking Peace Pilgrim for bringing us together. Colby and I will be looking forward to greeting everyone on birthday 101, 102, 103, etc.”
And so will I! Hope to see you July 17-19, 2009 – at another inspiring birthday celebration of our beloved Peace Pilgrim at her hometown - Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.
Jemila Ericson, Cheryl Canfield, and Helene Young
lead peace walkers on a two-mile pilgrimage.
Peace Pilgrim’s 101st
Planning is already underway for the 2009 Peace Pilgrim celebration in Egg Harbor City, NJ. The events will take place on July 17 and 18 and follow a format similar to that in 2008. There will be a Friday evening event with a Peace Pilgrim presentation and some live music. On Saturday we will once again enjoy and intergenerational peace walk and another community picnic will be held at the Peace Pilgrim Park. A local committee is organizing the celebration and the town of Egg Harbor City has been very supportive of this event that focuses the community on peace and honors the significant contributions of a native daughter. For more information visit – www.peacepilgrim100.org.