“Peace, One Step at a Time” with Rev. Marylou Palmer
Please join Rev. Marylou Palmer as she explores the journey of Peace Pilgrim who, literally, brought peace one step at a time!
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A revised transcript of this week’s talk is provided below for the deaf and hard of hearing, including prayers, readings, and songs.
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Peace be to this gathering and this moment. Here, beyond the confusion and rush of this world, may we glimpse new visions and renew weary faith. Here through quiet meditation, joyful communion and wisdom shared may we know the source of all being, that which is being itself, which we have named God, Elohim, Brahman, Allah, Ahura Mazda, Wakan Tanka, Olorun, and more. May we come to know the One, in which we live and move and have our being.
And so, in all the many names of God, we say Amen.Anonymous, adapted by Rev. Melanie Eyre
Today I come to you in prayer
To seek help for my life
And for those whom I love.
You are my Mother, my Sister, and my Friend.
Be with my beloved – comfort and sustain them.
I ask also that you console the poor,
Heal the sick, and
Bring those who have strayed to a good path.
Please return my long absent friends and relations to my side.
Listen to the petitions of my heart
And send our blessings to those whom I hold dear.
I ask for myself, for my loved ones, and for all people:
A sound mind,
Success in work,
enterprises and studies,
Relief from sorrow,
Healing of wounds,
Lifting of fear,
Purging of sadness,
Increase of joy,
Firmness of peace,
Forgiveness of offences,
Charity towards neighbors,
Abundance of love.
May we, in the coming days, be protected from harm.
May we be free of that which threatens our well-being.
Walk with us as you walk over this earth,
sharing your power, wisdom and grace.
So May It Be.Beloved Goddess Brighid, by Ellen Evert Hopman, with inspiration from Martha Kirby Capo
Adaptation by Rev. Melanie Eyre
“Peace, One Step at a Time” by Rev. Marylou Palmer
When I was just starting out my spiritual journey 30 years ago, I discovered a person who changed my life. Her name was Peace Pilgrim. She was somebody who had dedicated her life as a peace Pilgrim to walk and talk and share her devotion to a life of peace.
Mildred Norman, Peace Pilgrim
Mildred Norman was born in New Jersey and lived the typical American life, although she was not really religious, and didn’t grow up in church. Yet she became committed to peace. In fact, her dedication to peace was the reason that her marriage broke up, as her husband joined the army during the Second World War. She gave him an ultimatum and his sergeant read it and said that was grounds for divorce!
So, Mildred continued to grow in her preparations for this life of peace. She found making money easy and realized that the less she had the better she felt. She was a Minimalist even before it was even fashionable. And on New Year’s Day 1953, she set out from the Rose Bowl Parade declaring that she would be a wanderer until given shelter, fasting until given food.
The Way of Peace: Overcome Evil with Good, Falsehood with Truth, and Hatred with Love
With that Peace Pilgrim was off walking first and foremost to bring awareness that PEACE begins within. She traversed the continent almost 7 times in the 27 years she walked, meeting people and speaking with anyone who would listen to her that The Way of Peace is to:
Overcome Evil with Good, Falsehood with Truth, and Hatred with Love.
What excited me about Peace Pilgrim was her authenticity; she demonstrated respect for everyone, simple kindness, and gentleness. I fell in love with her contagious enthusiasm for the idea that it’s peace within ourselves that creates peace on our planet. In this process of reading and studying about her, I kept thinking: “Well if she can do it, then I can do it!”
Now, I wasn’t going to be a Peace Pilgrim, not likely that I was going without food until somebody decided to put a meal out in front of me! Or like Peace, who didn’t have a schedule of where she was going and what she was going to do. Basically, she was just going to rely on the ‘Scheduler of the Universe,’ that interconnection, to know where she was to go, when to accept rides, or when to have people willing to host her in their home and talk about this peace.
What’s Mine to Do? What truth am I living?
But I’m like, wow, she can do this, so what’s mine to do? How am I going to discover the spiritual practices and take up this challenge to see everything as an opportunity? Leading me to a clarity of vision, a clarity of purpose, and allowing me to transform my life? That by assuming a better attitude about life instead of just being a surface liver, that I could dive deep into the problems of life and really figure out how to respond to what’s going on?
I came to find out that it really didn’t matter what I thought or said when it all came down to was: “What truth am I living?” That it was what I was doing that took away from peace.
Peace Pilgrim set me off on my own spiritual journey, to become a teacher of God.
Each of Us Teaches What We Know to Be the Truth
You see, each of us teaches what we know to be the truth. It’s the way our life goes and what our own inner beliefs are made manifest on the outside for all to see. Because of her I decided that I wanted to teach and to learn about a spiritual path; one that wasn’t about saying the right words but the action I would take. It’s that Fifth Principle of Unity –– that it’s not about what’s going on in the world and your reaction to it, but where do you live in consciousness and how to act from that.
So Peace Pilgrim was a wonderful teacher for me and really a fascinating character in American history. Please know that her teachings were powerful. But for me it was the way she lived that made all the difference. She demonstrated more than anything else: be gentle in your interactions with others. She was faithful in the small things and then larger things were revealed. Be open, be whole.
Peace Pilgrim demonstrated for me what The Course in Miracles called the ten characteristics of Teachers of God. So I want to give us a chance to do an experiment to try on for size these characteristics.[This Visualization is based on the blog post entitled “Behavior MATTERS” by Greg Mackie from Circle of Atonement, and on A Course in Miracles Manual for Teachers. The video is used by permission of Chatham Adventures YouTube channel.]
Visualization: Behavior MATTERS
First, close your eyes and bring to mind either a specific relationship situation that you are currently dealing with, or a more general situation that you find yourself in frequently (I, for instance, often imagine myself helping customers at the store where I work). Imagine the setting, the people involved, and the circumstances as clearly as you can. Take time to notice the various thoughts, feelings, words, and images that come up as you think about this situation. Now shift to become especially aware of those thoughts or feelings that are angry, judgmental, fearful, etc. –– in short, notice those that are unloving.
Notice how you see yourself behaving in this situation time and time again, paying particular attention to behavior that is unloving.
As I read the visualization, let my words become your words silently. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable. We will begin with an intention to EMBODIMENT OF PEACE, and then I will lead you through visualizing a series of various characteristics and ask that you imagine yourself embodying that characteristic in your situation, letting that characteristic replace the unloving thoughts and behaviors you brought to mind previously. In this situation, see yourself thinking thoughts, speaking words, and acting in ways that reflect that particular characteristic. Try as best you can to really see yourself embodying that characteristic in every way possible. The goal of this exercise is not to judge your unloving thoughts and behaviors, it is simply to inspire a vision of how you might respond to this situation if you were filled with the Peace of God and lived as an advanced teacher of God.
Let us now begin the exercise.
As a result of faithfully following the Path of Peace and of joining others in the common purpose of following that Path of Peace, I gratefully receive everything necessary from God –– each and every character trait that allows me to fulfill my special role in this loving, peace-filled journey. Blessed with these gifts, I become an advanced teacher of God, a living embodiment of goodness and love in the world.
I trust the situation completely, because I recognize that it is truly governed by the gentle Power of the Holy Spirit [feel this Power]. Because of this, I understand that all things, events, encounters, and circumstances [including this situation] are truly helpful to everyone.
I am perfectly honest in every way; everything I think, say, and do is absolutely consistent. I live in perfect integrity. My thoughts are in total agreement with each other. I keep my word; when I say I will do something, I do it [see yourself doing this in your situation]. This integrity brings me deep peace of mind [feel how peaceful this is].
I am tolerant of everyone and everything because I do not judge them. All things and all people are equally acceptable in my sight [apply this to specific people and events in this situation].
I am wholly gentle, because I recognize that in truth I can neither harm nor be harmed. I understand that no gain can come from harming anyone or anything [see yourself acting kindly and gently in your situation]. My gentleness is not weakness; rather, it is the source of my strength [feel that strength].
I am joyous, because I fear nothing and have learned that I cannot suffer [see the suffering in your situation vanish]. My joy is my song of thanks to my Creator — how joyous it is to share this Life of the Divine with one and all!
I am utterly defenseless because I have no illusions to defend. Thus, I see no one as a threat to me; I see nothing as dangerous [look upon the fearful aspects of your situation with this in mind]. As I lay down my defenses, I find safety, peace, joy, and the love of God [see yourself laying down your defenses and feel the relief that brings].
I am generous beyond measure, because I recognize that the only way to keep what I really want is to give it away. I am ready to give away anything I have, if doing so serves the plan for salvation [see yourself giving freely in your situation]. And in freely giving away my material resources, I also give the true gift that they represent — the love of God. By giving the love of God to others, I ensure that all, including myself, will recognize that the love of God is truly theirs to give [feel this love return to you as you give it].
I am patient with everyone and everything because I realize that salvation is certain and will unfold with perfect timing. I understand that everything that has ever happened to anyone [including this situation] has served to benefit the world. Even so, I am willing to reconsider all my own past decisions if they are causing pain to anyone [look upon your situation and reconsider your past decisions concerning it].
I am totally faithful: consistent and unwavering in applying what I have learned from this Path of Peace to every situation in my life [see yourself applying these lessons to this situation right now]. This faithfulness to my path reflects my greater faithfulness and devotion to the Power of the Universe, to God, and to all my sisters and my brothers. In faithfulness to them, I rest in quiet certainty [feel the peace that this quiet certainty brings you].
Finally, I am open-minded, open only to the Voice of God’s Teacher WITHIN, and closed to the voice of judgment and condemnation [listen now for This Voice]. When I listen only to the Holy Spirit’s Voice and no other, my forgiveness of the world is finally made complete. And when I forgive completely, the world will sparkle with newness and joy and shining glory beyond what I can presently imagine [try to imagine it as best you can]. It is given me to bring the glad tidings of complete forgiveness to the world. Blessed indeed am I, for I am the bringer of salvation [see yourself as a bringer of salvation in your situation].
Peace in Every Step
I pray that this Visualization helps you to understand the qualities and character of what it means to be filled with Peace in Every Step. I don’t know about you, but every time I do this I am lifted up out of the fears and worries and battlefield of this world into a consciousness that helps me to be inspired, to express the Peace of God, to be tolerant of others.
Be willing to help others to understand there is a peace that does pass all understanding of the drama traumas. That this Peace allows us to be that Light, to be that Love. To be healed, in a way that allows our presence to inspire and encourage others. This is what I hope today’s experience of these characteristics, this visualization, will allow: that those qualities of Peace in Every Step will bring opportunities for your presence to do the same for others.
Peace be with you!
“I Am Opening up in Sweet Surrender” written by Michael Stillwater
“Steady” written by He Sang She Sang
This service originally aired on March 7, 2021.