Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peace Pilgrim

This month marks the 60th anniversary of a remarkable pilgrimage.

A story by NPR reports:  In 1953, Mildred Norman set off from the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day with a goal of walking the entire country for peace.  She left her given name behind and took up a new identity:  Peace Pilgrim.

She vowed to be a wanderer until mankind learned the way of peace and walked over 25,000 miles and fasted until she was offered food, and traveled on foot until she was given shelter.  To prepare for her walk she hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one year -- the first woman to do so.  Determined to walk until the world declared peace, she walked for 28 years carrying no money, with only the clothes on her back and a few items in her pockets.  She died in 1981 … riding in a car.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year I post this poem on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 
birthday in honor of all that he gave us and in hopes that
we live up to his words.

Twenty-six he was when destiny crooked its finger,
beckoning the still-green minister-scholar into the world.
Forty-two she was when she pounded on the door
Theoretically opened ninety-four years before.

It was the first of December, 1955, when history wove
Their fates together into a multi-colored tapestry of change.
“Tired,” she said, “Bone tired. Tired of giving up.
Tired of giving in,” she said and sat in the front of the bus.

Montgomery, Alabama, shivered as the temperature rose.
The old ways could be heard keening long into the night
As 42,000 people left the buses to stand by Rosa’s side.
381 days they walked: nannies, maids, carpenters, all.

Two hundred years of anger rose up to shatter the silence
And from this deafening roar came a molasses-rich voice
Spinning a song of hope with a melody of peace and love.
“I have a dream,” boomed and echoed across the land.

The young minister-leader painted a picture of a life
without color lines, a world without violence.
His voice lifted the dream: Richmond, Little Rock,
Dallas opened their buses, took down their signs.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter," he said, never silent again.
He took our hands and led us step-by-step onto a new path,
Brothers and sisters connected by heart rather than skin.

“Always avoid violence,” he said.
“If you succumb to the temptation …
unborn generations will be the recipients
of a long and desolate night of bitterness,
and your chief legacy to the future will be an
endless reign of meaningless chaos."

Thirty nine he was when one man with a gun silenced the voice,
But not the words …those four words branded into our brains:
“I have a dream …,” saffron-rich messengers left behind to
Carry forward the dream of a color-blind world of hope and peace.

Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. born January 15, 1929;
Assassinated April 4, 1968.
And Rosa Parks, civil rights activist, born February 4, 1913
Died October 24, 2005

-- Joyce Wycoff, copyright, 2011