From 1953 until 1981, a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. Wearing a blue tunic and carrying just a comb and toothbrush, she shared her simple but profound message in thousands of communities throughout the U.S.: “when enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.” Today, her words – captured in books, videos and other media – continue to inspire people around the world.
Peace Pilgrim (July 18, 1908 – July 7, 1981), born Mildred Lisette Norman, was an American non-denominational spiritual teacher, mystic, pacifist, vegetarian activist, peace activist. In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season. She also walked across the United States to speak with those she would encounter about peace. She was on her seventh cross-country journey when she died. Starting on January 1, 1953, in Pasadena, California, she adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” and walked across the United States for 28 years. For the next 28 years, she criss-crossed North America, touching many thousands of hearts, minds and lives as she walked joyfully on her pilgrimage for peace.
Expressing her ideas about peace, she referred to herself only as “Peace Pilgrim”. Peace Pilgrim’s only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 Miles on foot for peace” on the back. She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not even ask for food or shelter. When she began her pilgrimage she had taken a vow to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food”.
“In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem – it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.” Peace Pilgrim
Friends of Peace Pilgrim is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to making information about the life and message of Peace Pilgrim available freely to all who ask. Since 1983 they have published and distributed over 400,000 copies of the book, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, and over one-and-a-half-million copies of the booklet, Steps Toward Inner Peace. Books and booklets have been sent to over 100 countries.
- In 2017 she was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame
- In 2017 she was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame
Steps Toward Inner Peace
In 1964, Peace Pilgrim gave a radio talk in Los Angeles that she called Harmonious Principles for Human Living and lovingly dedicated to “all seekers of peace.” Her language was so practical, the timeless truths spoken so vibrantly, that people from all religions and walks of life were profoundly moved. That powerful talk was transcribed into what has become a spiritual classic: Steps Toward Inner Peace.
The small but powerful booklet captures Peace Pilgrim’ total peace message: peace among nations, peace among groups, and peace among individuals. Most importantly, it offers a guide to inner peace, because that is where true peace begins. Peace Pilgrim believed that world peace would come when enough people attain inner peace.
“Steps Toward Inner Peace” is not copyrighted and you are welcome to reproduce and share any of the versions below:
“Steps to Inner Peace” has been translated into 30 languages, often by people who read it in English and were inspired to share it in their native language.