A PILGRIM IS A WANDERER WITH A PURPOSE. A pilgrimage can be to a place--that's the best known kind--but it can also be for a thing. Mine is for peace, and that is why I am a Peace Pilgrim.
My pilgrimage covers the entire peace picture: peace among nations, peace among groups, peace within our environment, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace--which I talk about most often because that is where peace begins.
The situation in the world around us is just a reflection of the collective situation. In the final analysis, only as we become more peaceful people will we be finding ourselves living in a more peaceful world.
In the Middle Ages the pilgrims went out as the disciples were sent out--without money, without food, without adequate clothing--and I know that tradition. I have no money. I do not accept any money on my pilgrimage. I belong to no organization. There is no organization backing me. I own only what I wear and carry. There is nothing to tie me down. I am as free as a bird soaring in the sky.
I walk until given shelter, fast until given food. I don't ask--it's given without asking. Aren't people good! There is a spark of good in everybody, no matter how deeply it may be buried, it is there. It's waiting to govern your life gloriously. I call it the God-centered nature or the divine nature. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God within.
Now, a pilgrim walks prayerfully, and a pilgrim walks as an opportunity to come in contact with many people and perhaps inspire them to do something for peace in their own way. For that purpose I wear my short tunic with PEACE PILGRIM on the front and 25,000 Miles On Foot for Peace on the back. It makes my contacts for me in the kindest way...and I like to be kind.
You're in a much better position to talk with people when they approach you than when you approach them. Those individuals who are attracted to me are either genuinely interested in some phase of peace or just have a good lively curiosity. Both kinds are very worthwhile people. Then I have time to share with people my peace message which says in one sentence:
The Golden Rule would do equally well. There is nothing new about that except the practice of it. But I consider it the lesson for today and so it becomes the message of the peace pilgrimage. Please don't say lightly that these are just religious concepts and not practical. These are laws governing human conduct, which apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. When we disregard these laws in any walk of life, chaos results. Through obedience to these laws this world of ours will enter a period of peace and richness of life beyond our fondest dreams.
The key word for our time is practice. We have all the light we need, we just need to put it into practice.
What I walk on is not the energy of youth, it is a better energy. I walk on the endless energy of inner peace that never runs out! When you become a channel through which God works there are no more limitations, because God does the work through you: you are merely the instrument--and what God can do is unlimited. When you are working for God you do not find yourself striving and straining. You find yourself calm, serene and unhurried.
My pilgrimage is not a crusade, which connotes violence. There is no attempt to force something on people. 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.
In undertaking this pilgrimage I do not think of myself as an individual but rather as an embodiment of the heart of the world which is pleading for peace. Humanity, with fearful, faltering steps walks a knife-edge between abysmal chaos and a new renaissance, while strong forces push toward chaos. Yet there is hope. I see hope in the tireless work of a few devoted souls. I see hope in the real desire for peace in the heart of humanity, even though the human family gropes toward peace blindly, not knowing the way.
My pilgrimage is an opportunity to talk with my fellow human beings about the way of peace. It is also a penance for whatever I may have contributed by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today. It is a prayer that this war-weary world of ours will somehow find the way to peace before a holocaust descends.
My mission is to help promote peace by helping others to find inner peace. If I can find it, you can too. Peace is an idea whose time has come.
I began my pilgrimage on the first of January in 1953. It is my spiritual birthday of sorts. It was a period in which I was merged with the whole. No longer was I a seed buried under the ground, but I felt as a flower reaching out effortlessly toward the sun. On that day I became a wanderer relying upon the goodness of others. It would be a pilgrim's journey undertaken in the traditional manner: on foot and on faith. I left behind all claims to a name, personal history, possessions and affiliations.
It would be a glorious journey.
The birthplace of the pilgrimage was at the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, California. I walked ahead along the line of march, talking to people and handing out peace messages, and noticing that the holiday spirit did not lessen the genuine interest in peace. When I had gone about half way a policeman put his hand on my shoulder and I thought he was going to tell me to get off the line of march. Instead he said, "What we need is thousands like you."
What happened to me in the Los Angeles area in the beginning was almost miraculous. All channels of communication were opened to me and my little peace message. I spent hours being interviewed by newspaper reporters and being photographed by newspaper photographers. The story of the pilgrimage and even my picture went out over all the wire services. Besides doing two live television programs, I spent hours recording for radio and the television newscasts.
Newspapers all along the line from Los Angeles to San Diego were interested. In San Diego I did one television program and four radio shows. The head of the San Diego Council of Churches approved of my message and my three petitions, and they were widely circulated in the churches.
When I was not on the road I was speaking and gathering signatures for the three peace petitions which I carried. The first was a short plea for immediate peace in Korea. It read: "Let the killing in Korea cease! Then deal with this conflict situation according to the only principles which can solve it--overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love."
The second petition was directed to the President and congressional leaders requesting the installation of a Peace Department. It read: "This is the way of peace, overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love. We plead for the establishment of a Peace Department, with a Secretary of Peace who accepts these principles--and with all conflicts at home and abroad to be referred to this Peace Department."
The third petition was a plea to the United Nations and the world leaders for world disarmament and reconstruction: "If you would find the way of peace you must overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love. We plead with you to free us all from the crushing burden of armaments, to free us from hatred and fear, so that we may feed our hungry ones, mend our broken cities, and experience a richness of life which can only come in a world that is unarmed and fed."
I accumulated signed petitions from individuals, peace groups, churches and organizations along my pilgrimage route, storing them in a satchel which was carried for the occasion. I presented them to officials at both the White House and the United Nations at the conclusion of my first walk across the country. And I am thankful that my first petition, "Let the killing in Korea cease..." was at least partially granted before the first year was over.
At Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego, I was received by the mayor, and he gave me a message to carry to the mayor of New York City. I also carried a message from the California Indians to the Arizona Indians.
While passing through San Diego that first year I was introduced into public speaking. A high school teacher approached me on the street and inquired if I would speak to her class. I told her in all fairness that as Peace Pilgrim I had never spoken to a group before. She assured me that it would be fine and asked only that I would answer the students' questions. I agreed. If you have something worthwhile to say, you can say it. Otherwise, why in the world would you want to be speaking?
I have no problem speaking before a group. When you have completely surrendered to God's will, the way seems easy and joyous. It is only before you have completely surrendered that the way seems difficult. When I speak, energy flows through me like electricity flows through a wire.
In the beginning, my speaking engagements were often arranged on the spur of the moment. As I was walking past a school, the principal came out and said, "My students are looking at you from the windows. If you would come in and talk to them we'll gather them in the gymnasium." So I did.
Then at noon, a man from one of the civic clubs approached me and said, "My speaker disappointed us. Will you come and speak at our luncheon?" And of course I did.
The same afternoon a college professor on the way to his class stopped me and asked, "Could I take you to my students?" So I spoke to his class.
Then at night a minister and his wife going to a church supper stopped me and said, "Would you consider coming and eating with us, and speaking to us?" And I did. They also gave me a bed for the night. And all this happened as I was walking along one day without any prior engagements.
Now I keep very busy speaking for peace at colleges, high schools, churches, and so forth--but always I am happily busy. My slogan of First things first has enabled me to take care of my speaking engagements, keep my mail up to date and also do some walking.
Once in Cincinnati I gave seven sermons at seven different places of worship in one day. On that particular Sunday I gave local ministers the day off!
No collections are permitted at meetings that are held for me. I never accept a penny for the work I do. Any money sent to me through the mail is used to publish my literature which is sent free of charge to anyone who requests it.
Truth is the pearl without price. One cannot obtain truth by buying it--all you can do is to strive for spiritual truth and when one is ready, it will be given freely. Nor should spiritual truth be sold, lest the seller be injured spiritually. You lose any spiritual contact the moment you commercialize it. Those who have the truth would not be packaging and selling it, so anyone who is selling it, really does not possess it.
When I first started out I thought the pilgrimage might entail some hardships. But I was determined to live at need level, that is, I didn't want more than I need when so many have less than they need. Penance is the willingness to undergo hardships for the achievement of a good purpose. I was willing. But when hardships came I found myself lifted above them. Instead of hardship, I found a wonderful sense of peace and joy and conviction that I was following God's will. Blessings instead of hardships are showered upon me.
I remember my first lesson on the pilgrimage was the lesson of receiving. I had been on the giving side for many years and I needed to learn to accept as gracefully as I had been able to give, in order to give the other fellow the joy and blessing of giving. It's so beautiful when you live to give. To me it's the only way to live, because as you give you receive spiritual blessings.
I was tested severely in the beginning of my pilgrimage. Life is a series of tests; but if you pass your tests, you look back upon them as good experiences. I'm glad I had these experiences.
If you have a loving and positive attitude toward your fellow human beings, you will not fear them. 'Perfect love casteth out all fear.'
One test happened in the middle of the night in the middle of the California desert. The traffic had just about stopped, and there wasn't a human habitation within many miles. I saw a car parked at the side of the road. The driver called to me saying, "Come on, get in and get warm." I said, "I don't ride." He said, "I'm not going anywhere, I'm just parked here." I got in. I looked at the man. He was a big, burly man--what most people would call a rough looking individual. After we had talked a while he said, "Say, wouldn't you like to get a few winks of sleep?" And I said, "Oh, yes, I certainly would!" And I curled up and went to sleep. When I awoke I could see the man was very puzzled about something, and after we had talked for quite some time he admitted that when he had asked me to get into the car he had certainly meant me no good, adding, "When you curled up so trustingly and went to sleep, I just couldn't touch you!"
I thanked him for the shelter and began walking away. As I looked back I saw him gazing at the heavens, and I hoped he had found God that night.
No one walks so safely as one who walks humbly and harmlessly with great love and great faith. For such a person gets through to the good in others (and there is good in everyone), and therefore cannot be harmed. This works between individuals, it works between groups and it would work between nations if nations had the courage to try it.
Once I was hit by a disturbed teenage boy whom I had taken for a walk. He wanted to go hiking but was afraid he might break a leg and be left lying there. Everyone was afraid to go with him. He was a great big fellow and looked like a football player, and he was known to be violent at times. He had once beaten his mother so badly that she had to spend several weeks in the hospital. Everybody was afraid of him, so I offered to go with him.
As we got up to the first hilltop everything was going fine. Then a thunderstorm came along. He was very terrified because the thundershower was very close. Suddenly he went off the beam and came for me, hitting at me. I didn't run away although I guess I could have--he had a heavy pack on his back. But even while he was hitting me I could only feel the deepest compassion toward him. How terrible to be so psychologically sick that you would be able to hit a defenseless old woman! I bathed his hatred with love even while he hit me. As a result the hitting stopped.
He said, "You didn't hit back! Mother always hits back." The delayed reaction, because of his disturbance, had reached the good in him. Oh, it's there--no matter how deeply it is buried--and he experienced remorse and complete self-condemnation.
What are a few bruises on my body in comparison with the transformation of a human life? To make a long story short he was never violent again. He is a useful person in this world today.
On another occasion I was called upon to defend a frail eight year old girl against a large man who was about to beat her. The girl was terrified. It was my most difficult test. I was staying at a ranch and the family went into town. The little girl did not want to go with them, and they asked, since I was there, would I take care of the child? I was writing a letter by the window when I saw a car arrive. A man got out of the car. The girl saw him and ran and he followed, chasing her into a barn. I went immediately into the barn. The girl was cowering in terror in the corner. He was coming at her slowly and deliberately.
You know the power of thought. You're constantly creating through thought. And you attract to you whatever you fear. So I knew her danger because of her fear. (I fear nothing and expect good--so good comes!)
I put my body immediately between the man and the girl. I just stood and looked at this poor, psychologically sick man with loving compassion. He came close. He stopped! He looked at me for quite a while. He then turned and walked away and the girl was safe. There was not a word spoken.
Now, what was the alternative? Suppose I had been so foolish as to forget the law of love by hitting back and relying upon the jungle law of tooth and claw? Undoubtedly I would have been beaten--perhaps even to death and possibly the little girl as well! Never underestimate the power of God's love--it transforms! It reaches the spark of good in the other person and the person is disarmed.
When I started out on my pilgrimage, I was using walking for two purposes at that time. One was to contact people, and I still use it for that purpose today. But the other was as a prayer discipline. To keep me concentrated on my prayer for peace. And after a few years I discovered something. I discovered that I no longer needed the prayer discipline. I pray without ceasing now. My personal prayer is: Make me an instrument through which only truth can speak.
During my pilgrimage through Arizona I was arrested by a plainclothes policeman while mailing letters at the local post office in Benson. After a short ride in a patrol car I was booked as a vagrant. When you walk on faith you are technically guilty of vagrancy. Yes, I've been jailed several times for not having any money, but they always release me once they understand.
There is a great deal of difference between a prison and a jail. A prison is something big that maintains some kind of standards. A jail is a little affair that doesn't maintain much of any standard. And this was a jail!
They put me into a huge inner room surrounded by cell blocks in which they locked the women, four to a cell for the night. As I walked in I said to myself, "Peace Pilgrim, you have dedicated your life to service--behold your wonderful new field of service!"
When I walked in one of the girls said, "Gee, you're a funny one, you're the only one that came in smiling. Most of them come in crying or cursing."
I said to them, "Suppose you had a day off at home--wouldn't you do something worthwhile on that day?" They said, "Yes, what will we do?" So I got them to sing songs that lifted the spirit. I gave them a simple exercise which makes you feel tingly all over. Then I talked to them about the steps toward inner peace. I told them they lived in a community and what could be done in an outer community could also be done in their community. They were interested and asked many questions. Oh, it was a beautiful day.
At the end of the day they changed matrons. The girls didn't like the woman who came in. They said she was a horrible person and said not to even speak to her. But I know there's good in everybody and of course I spoke to her. I learned this woman was supporting her children with this job. She felt she had to work and didn't always feel well and that's why she was a bit cross at times. There is a reason for everything.
I asked the matron to visualize only the good in the inmates. And I asked the girls to visualize only the good in the beleaguered matron.
Later on I said to the matron, "I realize you have a full house here and I can sleep comfortably on this wooden bench." Instead she had them bring me a cot with clean bedclothes, and I had a warm shower with a clean towel and all the comforts of home.
In the morning I bade farewell to my friends and was escorted by a local deputy to the courthouse several blocks away. I wasn't handcuffed nor was he even holding onto me. But he had a great big gun at his side, and so I looked at him and said, "If I were to run away, would you shoot me?" "Oh, no," he said grinning, "I never shoot anything I can catch!"
In court that morning I pleaded not guilty and my case was immediately dismissed. In my personal effects which were taken overnight was a letter which had great weight in my release. It read: "The bearer of this note has identified herself as a Peace Pilgrim walking coast to coast to direct the attention of our citizens to her desire for peace in the world. We do not know her personally as she is just passing through our state, but since undoubtedly it will be a long, hard trip for her, we wish her safe passage." It was on official stationery and signed by the governor of the state, Howard Pyle.
When I was being released a court officer remarked, "You don't seem to be any the worse for your day in jail." I said, "You can imprison my body, but not the spirit." It's only the body they can put behind prison bars. I never felt in prison and neither will you ever feel in prison--unless you imprison yourself.
They took me to the spot where I had been picked up the day before. It was a beautiful experience.
Every experience is what you make it and it serves a purpose. It might inspire you, it might educate you, or it might come to give you a chance to be of service in some way.
Most of my speaking is now scheduled well in advance but I am still offered speaking engagements in a most unexpected manner. In Minneapolis I was being interviewed by a reporter at a gathering of civic club members who were awaiting an address by the Minnesota governor. He was unable to make it so they invited me to speak in his place. Of course I accepted!
And speaking of governors, as I stepped inside the big front door of a State House one day, a nice friendly gentleman greeted me and shook my hand and asked if he could help me. I told him I was looking for the Governor's office and he promptly took me there. "Is there anything else I can do to help you?" he asked. "I thought I might have the privilege of shaking hands with the Governor," I said. "You have shaken hands with the Governor," said the nice friendly gentleman--the Governor himself.
It was the first year of my pilgrimage and I was somewhere along the highway between El Paso and Dallas when I was picked up for vagrancy. I have never heard of the FBI investigating people for vagrancy but I was. A man in a black car stopped and showed me his badge. He didn't even demand that I come with him, he just said, "Will you come with me?"
I said, "Oh yes. I'll be interested in talking with you."
I got into his car, but first I scratched a large 'X' on the highway where I had been picked up. During the time I was counting miles, if I left the highway I would make a large 'X' and then return to the spot to begin my walk anew.
He took me to this prison and said, "Book her for vagrancy," and I went through the routine. They first take you in for fingerprinting. I was fascinated because I never had fingerprints taken before--or since! He then took a chemical and, just like that, he got all the black ink off my fingers. When I was wondering how long it would take to wash it off, it was off.
I spoke to him just as I would speak to anybody I was with, and something interesting happened. Apparently he was used to being treated in a very uncooperative manner. When I treated him like a human being he gave me a lecture on fingerprinting and he showed me the charts. It was very interesting. I had really not learned that much about fingerprinting before. People were waiting in line, but I didn't know that until I came out of the room and saw the long line.
Then they took me in to be photographed and hung a number around my neck with a chain. When they were photographing me from the front and side, I remembered all those pictures of wanted people you see in the post office. I remembered how mad they all looked, and I said to myself, "Let me be different." And I smiled as sweetly as I could. There's one smiling face somewhere in rogue's gallery!
Then they took me in to be questioned. They actually sat me under a strong light--it's supposed to have a psychological effect on you. But I had already been on television at that time, and I said to myself, "Do they really think this is a strong light? They should see the lights in a television studio!" At that time TV lights were not only bright but hot.
They first asked me if I would answer any questions, and I said, "Certainly, I will answer your questions. Not because you are law enforcement officers, but because you are fellow human beings, and I answer the questions of all my fellow human beings. Whatever you are in your official capacity, you are first and foremost a human being. And if we could get together as human being to human being we can get done much faster."
And it ended up that way!
They began with the confusing technique. One would fire a question at me. Before I could answer the other would fire a question at me. I had to keep saying, "If you will pardon me for a moment while I answer the other gentleman's question." Then they got down to meaningful questions such as college students ask me. How I warmed up to the subject!
Then they referred to physical violence as being the intent to hurt. They said, "Would you under any circumstances use or sanction the use of physical violence?" I said, "No, this is contrary to God's laws. I would rather have God on my side than any power on earth." I told them the story of the disturbed teenage boy who hit me during our walk together.
Then they said, "Suppose it was necessary for you to defend a loved one?" I said, "Oh, no, I do not believe I could defend a loved one by disobeying Divine Law." I told them about the eight year old girl who had been left in my care and the experience we had with the psychologically sick man who tried to harm her.
Then they got into things very philosophical and said, "If you had to choose between killing and being killed, which would you choose?" I answered, "I don't think I would need to make such a choice--not as long as my life remains in harmony with God's will. Unless, of course, it was my calling to be a martyr. Now, that's a very high calling, it's a very rare calling. I don't believe it's my calling--but the world learns to grow through its martyrs. If I had to make a choice, I would choose to be killed rather than kill."
They said, "Could you give a logical explanation for such an attitude?" Here I was, attempting to explain the attitude of the self-centered nature and the attitude of the God-centered nature so they could understand it! I told them that in my frame of reference I was not the body. I was just wearing the body. I am that which activates the body-- that's the reality. If I am killed, it destroys merely the clay garment, the body. But if I kill, it injures the reality, the soul!
And they put me down as having a religious basis for my pilgrimage. But suppose I had said, "After all, you've heard of self-defense--why, even the law recognizes self-defense." This might have been considered legal--but not religious.
There was an occasion when I felt that I was indeed battling with the elements. It was my experience of walking through a dust storm which sometimes blew with such force I could scarcely stand against it, while sometimes the dust was so thick I could not see ahead and could only guide myself by the edge of the road. A policeman stopped alongside me, threw open his car door and yelled, "Get in here, woman, before you get killed." I told him I was walking a pilgrimage and did not accept rides (at that time). I also told him that God was my shield and there was nothing to fear. At that moment the winds died down, the dust settled and the sun broke from the clouds. I continued to walk. But the wonderful thing was that I felt spiritually lifted above the hardship.
Concealed in every new situation we face is a spiritual lesson to be learned and a spiritual blessing for us if we learn that lesson. It is good to be tested. We grow and learn through passing tests. I look upon all my tests as good experiences. Before I was tested, I believed I would act in a loving or non-fearing way. After I was tested, I knew! Every test turned out to be an uplifting experience. And it is not important that the outcome be according to our wishes.
I remember one experience when it said in the local newspaper I was going to speak at a church service. It showed my picture--front and back, wearing my lettered tunic. A man who belonged to that church was simply horrified to discover that this creature wearing a lettered tunic was about to speak at his church. He called his preacher about it, and he called his friends about it. Somebody told me who he was. I felt so sorry that I had somehow offended a man that I didn't even know. So, I called him!
"This is Peace Pilgrim calling," I said. I could hear him gasp. Afterward he told me that he thought I had called to bawl him out. I said, "I have called to apologize to you because evidently I must have done something to offend you, since without even knowing me you have been apprehensive about my speaking at your church. Therefore I feel I must somehow owe you an apology and I have called to apologize!"
Do you know that man was in tears before the conversation was over? And now we're friends--he corresponded with me afterward. Yes, the law of love works!
Another man once said to me, "I'm surprised at the kind of person you are. After reading your very serious message on the way of peace I expected you to be a very solemn person, but instead I find you bubbling over with joy." I said to him, "Who could know God and not be joyous?"
If you have a long face and a chip on your shoulder, if you are not radiant with joy and friendliness, if you are not filled to overflowing with love and goodwill for all beings and all creatures and all creation, one thing is certain: you do not know God!
Also, life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you. I just put a big smile on my face and everyone smiles back.
If you love people enough, they will respond lovingly. If I offend people, I blame myself, for I know that if my conduct had been correct, they would not have been offended, even though they did not agree with me. Before the tongue can speak, it must have lost the power to wound.
Let me tell you a time when my love had to be non-verbal. I was trying to help a lady who had been so seriously ill that she could no longer drive her car. She wanted to get to her older sister's house for a few weeks of bed rest so I offered to drive her there. I still had my driver's license at the time. On the way she said, "Peace, I wish you could stay with me for awhile--my older sister is so domineering. I just dread being alone with her." I said, "All right, I have a few extra days. I'll stay with you for a little while."
When we were turning into her sister's yard she said, "Peace, I really don't know how my older sister is going to accept you."
She was quite right about her older sister. When her sister took one look at me with my lettered tunic she ordered me out of the house. But it was late at night and she was so afraid of the dark that she said, "Not tonight, you may sleep on the sofa tonight, but the first thing in the morning you must leave!"
Then she hurried her younger sister off to bed way upstairs somewhere. Well, this was worse than I thought it might be. I certainly didn't want to leave my friend in this situation but what could I do? So I looked around to see if there was anything that might permit me to communicate with the older sister. I looked into the kitchen and there was a mountain of dirty dishes and no dishwasher, so I washed all the dishes. Then I cleaned up the kitchen and lay down and slept for a few hours.
In the morning the older sister was in tears and she asked me to stay. She said, "Of course, you understand I was so tired last night I didn't know what I was saying." And we had a wonderful time together before I left them. You see, it just gave me the chance to put my little message into practice. Practice is good; practice makes perfect, they say.
During my travels a saloon-keeper called me into his tavern to give me some food, and while I was eating he asked, "How do you feel in a place like this?"
"I know that all human beings are God's children," I replied. "Even when they are not acting what way, I have faith that they could, and I love them for what they could be."
As I rose to leave I noticed a man with a drink in his hand was also on his feet. When he caught my eye he smiled a little, and I smiled at him. "You smiled at me," he said in surprise. "I should think you wouldn't even speak to me but you smiled at me." I smiled again. "I'm not here to judge my fellow human beings," I told him. "I am here to love and serve." Suddenly he was kneeling at my feet and saying, "Everyone else judged me, so I defended myself. You didn't judge me, so now I judge myself. I'm a no-good worthless sinner! I've been squandering my money on liquor. I've been mistreating my family. I've been going from bad to worse!" I put my hand on his shoulder. "You are God's child," I said, "and you could act that way."
He looked with disgust at the drink in his hand, and then hurled it against the bar, shattering the glass. His eyes met mine. "I swear to you I'll never touch that stuff again," he exclaimed. "Never!" And there was a new light in his eyes as he walked through the door with steady steps.
I even know the happy ending to that story. About a year and a half later I heard from a woman in that town. She said as far as anyone knew the man kept his promise. He never touched liquor again. He now has a good job. He is getting along well with his family and has joined a church.
When you approach others in judgment they will be on the defensive. When you are able to approach them in a kindly, loving manner without judgment they will tend to judge themselves and be transformed.
On my pilgrimage a lot of cars stopped and people invited me to ride. Some thought walking meant hitchhiking. I told them I did not cheat God--you don't cheat about counting miles on a pilgrimage.
I remember one day as I walked along the highway a very nice car stopped and the man inside said to me, "How wonderful that you are following your calling!" I replied, "I certainly think that everyone should be doing what he or she feels is the right thing to do."
He then began telling me what he felt motivated toward, and it was a good thing that needed doing. I got quite enthusiastic about it and took it for granted that he was doing it. I said, "That's wonderful! How are you getting along with it?" And he answered,
"Oh, I'm not doing it. That kind of work doesn't pay anything."
I shall never forget how desperately unhappy that man was. In this materialistic age we have such false criteria by which to measure success. We measure it in terms of dollars, in terms of material things. But happiness and inner peace do not lie in that direction. If you know but do not do, you are a very unhappy person indeed.
I had another roadside experience when a fine car stopped with a well-dressed couple inside who began to talk to me. I started to explain to them what I was doing. Suddenly, to my amazement, the man burst into tears. He said, "I have done nothing for peace and you have to do so much!"
And then there was the time when another man stopped his car to talk with me. He looked at me, not unkindly, but with extreme surprise and curiosity, as though he had just glimpsed a live dinosaur. "In this day and age," he exclaimed, "with all the wonderful opportunities the world has to offer, what under the sun made you get out and walk a pilgrimage for peace?"
"In this day and age," I answered, "when humanity totters on the brink of a nuclear war of annihilation, it is not surprising that one life is dedicated to the cause of peace--but rather it is surprising that many lives are not similarly dedicated."
When I ended my first cross-country walk I felt so thankful that I had not failed to do what I had been called to do. I either said or thought to myself, "Isn't it wonderful that God can do something through me!"
Afterward I slept at the Grand Central Station railroad terminal in New York City.
When I came into the state between sleep and wakefulness, I had an impression that an indescribably beautiful voice was speaking words of encouragement: "You are my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased." When I came into full wakefulness it seemed as though a celestial orchestra had just finished playing in the station, with its echoes still lingering on. I walked out into the cold morning, but I felt warm. I walked along the cement sidewalk, but I felt I was walking on clouds. The feeling of living in harmony with divine purpose has never left me.