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The old Quaker adage, "Let your life speak," spoke to author Parker J. Palmer when he was in his early 30s. It summoned him to a higher purpose, so he decided that henceforth he would live a nobler life. "I lined up the most elevated ideals I could find and set out to achieve them," he writes. "The results were rarely admirable, often laughable, and sometimes grotesque.... I had simply found a 'noble' way of living a life that was not my own, a life spent imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart."
Thirty years later, Palmer now understands that learning to let his life speak means "living the life that wants to live in me." It involves creating the kind of quiet, trusting conditions that allow a soul to speak its truth. It also means tuning out the noisy preconceived ideas about what a vocation should and shouldn't be so that we can better hear the call of our wild souls. There are no how-to formulas in this extremely unpretentious and well-written book, just fireside wisdom from an elder who is willing to share his mistakes and stories as he learned to live a life worth speaking about. --Gail Hudson
A gifted academic who formerly combined a college teaching career with community organizing, Palmer took a year's sabbatical to live at the "intentional" Quaker community of Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania. Instead of leaving at year's end, he became the community's dean of studies and remained there for 10 years. Palmer (The Courage to Teach) shares the lessons of his vocational and spiritual journey, discussing his own burnout and intense depression with exceptional candor and clarity. In essays that previously appeared in spiritual or educational journals and have been reworked to fit into this slim volume, he suggests that individuals are most authentic when they follow their natural talents and limitations, as his own story demonstrates. Since hearing one's "calling" requires introspection and self-knowledge (as suggested by the eponymous Quaker expression), Palmer encourages inner work such as journal-writing, meditation and prayer. Recognizing that his philosophy is at odds with popular, essentially American attitudes about self-actualization and following one's dreams, Palmer calls vocation "a gift, not a goal." He deftly illustrates his point with examples from the lives of people he admires, such as Rosa Parks, Annie Dillard and Vaclav Havel. A quiet but memorable addition to the inspirational field, this book has the quality of a finely worked homily. The writing displays a gentle wisdom and economy of style that leaves the reader curious for more insight into the author's Quaker philosophy. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What a kind and charming book! I felt bathed in compassion as I read it. Parker Palmer uses his own story and sometimes his missteps to help all of us become attuned to the deepest... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bonnie Hutchinson
I have take taken to reading this every year for the past several years. It is an "easy enough read" that I'm not lost in obtuse theoretical arguments but with the reality... Read morePublished 10 months ago by I. Lopez-Ganoza
my god, what an obnoxious, over-wrought, self-important heap of nonsense. this man thinks far too highly of his life story, which is low on anything truely trying and high on... Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2004 by grace tilton
I found this book to be an interesting read into one man's journey toward self-discovery. He has some good insights into how one might take a different view of the world and find... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004 by "rice222"
This book is an inspiration for those feeling "the pull"--the struggle between "what society tells me I should be doing" and "what I feel I need/was born... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2003 by melissa bride
This book should be required reading for all high school seniors. Barring that, it should be required reading for every college freshman. I wish I had read it 30 years ago. Read morePublished on July 29 2003
This book is little more than a (mercifully) short autobiography of an arrogant and misguided know-it-all. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2003