A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Being an Alchemist

I was a little nervous going to the Masterpeace office in Cairo today. I've been a relatively low profile pilgrim for Masterpeace; any publicity I've had has found me, and not the other way around, so I haven't had much of it. And without publicity for myself, I haven't generated much publicity for Masterpeace either. But my destination had always been Cairo because of Masterpeace, so I paid a visit.
My Masterpeace contact these past eighteen months has been Raghda, and she knew I had arrived in Cairo, but if she wasn't in the office I thought I might just introduce myself, then leave again when everyone wondered who I was and why I was there. When I couldn't find the building where Masterpeace is located, I phoned the office.
"Hello, is this the Masterpeace office?" I asked.
"This is Ken... Ken Schroeder..."
There was a pause, and I was ready to explain what I explained to everyone; that I was walking for peace, and I'd walked also for Masterpeace, etc, when the woman on the phone said, "You're the Alchemist!"
I was glad she knew who I was, though I had never called myself an alchemist, and certainly not 'The Alchemist.'
She was referring to Masterpeace Alchemist Alive, which is a part of Masterpeace that encourages journeys for peace, and comes from Paolo Coelho's book 'The Alchemist,' (with his permission.) But the fact that she had said, "You're the Alchemist!" rather than, "You're the guy that walked from Portugal!" had me feeling pretty important at that moment. Hmmm, I thought.  I am The Alchemist.
So once The Alchemist had fumbled around to find the right building, I took the elevator to the 13th floor where I found the office. Before long I was getting nervous again, not because no one knew who I was, but because of all the attention I was getting.

After I'd walked into the outskirts of Cairo, and gotten the news from Inge that we had lost our friend Sofia in a bus crash in Thailand, I 'd made my way to Maadi to find my host and hole up for a few days. My host, Shanna, allowed me to do just that. Shanna is from New Zealand, and teaches in Cairo. She had once cycled the length of New Zealand's south island for diabetes, so she was sympathetic to my cause. Maadi is on the south end of Cairo, and has a large expat community, and through Shanna I've met many of her colleagues from Ireland, England, and the US. But most of my time here has been spent in isolation. So despite having been in Cairo now for several days, I haven't seen much of it or met many of the people who are from here. Nor had I visited the Masterpeace office until today.

I hope to extend my visa here, something I've been assured is much easier and cheaper to do than in Turkey, and to help Masterpeace in planning and doing a walk through Cairo to the pyramids. As in Coelho's book, the pyramids had been the final destination for my walk for peace. Masterpeace is planning a peace concert at the pyramids in September of 2014. However, the pyramids have now become another leg of my journey; an important leg of my journey, but not the final destination.
I completely support Masterpeace for its philosophy that the individual can change the world for the better, even if only in a very small way. Too many 'professional' peacemaking organizations disregard personal initiative as being ineffective or naive, but I believe that anyone's sincere initiative to create peace will have positive results, even if those results are never seen by that person.
So now after walking from Portugal to Istanbul, hitchhiking from there to Iskenderun, taking a ship from there to Port Said and then walking from there to Cairo, I'll continue walking with others to the pyramids for Masterpeace, and for peace in Egypt and in the world. But once we've gotten to the pyramids, I'll have more walking to do.

Meanwhile there are other alchemists walking or making a journey for peace; 'The Alchemist' for me just may be Wijnand Boon, now in Italy, who helped to inspire me to make this journey. There are alchemists who are planning to start their walks for peace very soon, and there are alchemists who are just thinking about making a journey for peace, and alchemists who don't even know yet that they'll be making a journey for peace. Some will be going to the pyramids while others have other destinations, like Stephan Meurisch who is now in Turkey and walking to Tibet. I'll still be walking with them, and with all of those I have come to know on this journey.

But for now, on to the pyramids! Peace!

Look up Masterpeace at Masterpeace.org to start your own initiative for peace

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