It’s a Gift to be Simple

Today, I want to talk about one of my spiritual heroes, or shall I say heroines, Peace Pilgrim. Her real name was Mildred Lisette Norman. She was born in 1908, almost 110 years ago. You can see her photo on our bulletin today.

I first met her when I was a sophomore in college – I was 19 years old – and she was my age – 64 – when she spoke at our church in San Jose. She wore a blue apron with pockets in it that announced on the front “Peace Pilgrim” and on the back “Walking 25,000 miles for peace.”

Can you imagine walking 25,000 miles?

By the time I met her, she had walked through nearly every state in the USA and had crisscrossed our nation half a dozen times. She had been walking non-stop across the country for nearly 20 years, covering more than 25,000 miles by then. She believed that God asked her to walk around our country to help us bring peace to the world.

Can you imagine that? Walking from Massachusetts to California and back again, from sea to shining sea, not just once, but several times.

She carried everything she had in her pockets.   She camped out most nights, and owned virtually nothing and yet she had everything she needed.

Can you imagine that – not owning anything?

Can you imagine only having a few items of clothing?

I think I live pretty simply. But, some of you have been to my home – and I have a lot of things – what sort of things do I have? – Jack and James you can answer this. That’s lots of things, isn’t it?

We have been studying about loving the planet. Loving the planet, protecting the land, sea, ponds, lakes, air, and animals and fish may require us to live more simply. Or as the saying goes, “live simply so others can simply live.”

Living simply means not wasting things. It means being more careful about using resources.

What things do people like us waste? [electricity, water, heat, paper, food]

How might we care for our resources more? [recycle, turn off lights, don’t run water when your brushing your teeth, using the back sides of papers, walking and not driving, you might give toys you don’t use to children who don’t have any toys, you might give change lying around the house to UNICEF to help kids that don’t have running water or electricity or good food]

What might we do at church to live more simply?

Now, most of the time, we don’t think we can do much. But, God’s book, the Bible, reminds us that small things can make a big difference – a boy brings five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus feeds five thousand people, a few men and women tell the world about Jesus and then the story of Jesus spreads to the whole world, a woman plants a small seed and it grows to become a great plant.

You may be small – and you may feel old and we may not seem like a large church – but we can still do great things. A few committed people can change the world.

Peace Pilgrim walked all over our country. She wasn’t very important. She wasn’t powerful like the president and didn’t have a lot of money. But, wherever she went, she showed people how to live peacefully, and she could live simply because she knew one important thing – God was with her, God protected her, and God would give her everything she needed.