Appalachian Trail Experience
Through years of contemplation and volunteer work, through spiritual seeking and walking in receptive silence amid nature, she worked out her own steps towards inner peace. She described her journey as going through "stages of maturity," or "spiritual growth."
The first stage (1933-1938) represented her emotional ups and downs of discontent and struggles within her "self-centered life." Those years between the second stage and the sixth (1938-1953) brought her to the complete inner peace she sought. She gained it slowly, in a series of spiritual plateaus. Her very first plateau, or glimpse of "inner peace," she said, came in the fourth stage (the mid-1940s). Then in the fifth (the late 1940s), she experienced more plateaus for longer and longer periods. Finally, in the sixth stage (1952), she achieved complete inner peace and was ready to embark on her life's work. (These stages and the steps to achieve them were later translated into her pamphlet, Steps Toward Inner Peace.) She described her first "inner peace" experience, which arrived in stage four, this way:
I was out walking in the early morning. All of a sudden I felt very uplifted, more uplifted than I had ever been. I remember I knew timelessness and spacelessness and lightness. I did not seem to be walking on the earth...but...every flower, every bush, every tree, seemed to wear a halo. There was a light emanation around everything and flecks of gold fell like slanted rain through the air...The most important part was not the phenomena: the important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation...
Source: Peace Pilgrim's story was written by Marta Daniels, and is reprinted here by permission of the author. It is adapted from Daniels' extended biography of Mildred Norman Ryder (Peace Pilgrim), first published in short form in Notable American Women, A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. V, Harvard University Press, 2005. The full story ("Peace Pilgrim: Spiritual Teacher, Non Violent Advocate, Peace Prophet") can be found on the Peace Pilgrim web site at: http://www.peacepilgrim.com/htmfiles/mdppbio.htm Reprint of this story in part or whole must have the permission of the author. Contact the author through the Voices website.