Parker Palmer

When the heart break the words fall in

The insight at the heart of nonviolence is that we live in a tragic gap—a gap between the way things are and the way we know they might be… If we want to live nonviolent lives, we must learn to stand in the tragic gap, faithfully holding the tension between reality and possibility in hopes of being opened to a third way... [of breaking our] collective hearts open to justice, truth, and love.

There is an old Hasidic tale that tells us how such things happen. The pupil comes to the rebbe and asks, "Why does Torah tell us to 'place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?" The rebbe answers, "It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks, and the words fall in."

~Parker J. Palmer in A HIDDEN WHOLENESS

Solitude means never living apart from one's self

Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one's self. It is not about the absence of other people, it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.

~ from A HIDDEN WHOLENESS by Parker Palmer

Redeem in beauty all my life has been

Spirit cuts like water though it all
Carving out this emptiness
So inner eye can see
The soaring height of canyon walls within
Walls whose very color, texture, form
Redeem in beauty all my life has been
The darkness and the light, the false, the true
While deep below through my parts
To resurrect my gravebound heart
Making, always making, all things new.

~ from "Grand Canyon" by Parker Palmer

We are made for solitude

We are made for solitude. Our lives may be rich in relationships, but the human self remains a mystery of enfolded inwardness that no other person can possibly enter and know. If we fail to embrace our ultimate aloneness and seek meaning only in communion with others, we wither and die. The farther we travel toward the great mystery, the more at home we must be with our essential aloneness in order to stay healthy and whole. Our equal and opposite needs for solitude and community constitute a great paradox.

~ from THE COURAGE TO TEACH by Parker Palmer

True vocation joins self and service

True vocation joins self and service, as F. Buechner asserts when defining vocation as "the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need." Buechner's definition starts with the self and moves toward the needs of the world: it begins, wisely, where vocation begins – not in what the world needs (which is everything), but in the nature of the human self, in what brings the self joy, the deep joy of knowing that we are here on earth to be the gifts that God created.
~ from LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK by Parker Palmer

If we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while

If we want to support each other's inner lies, we must remember a simple truth. The human soul does not want to be fixed, it wants simply to be seen and heard. If we want to see and hear a person's soul, there is another truth we must remember. The soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient, and yet shy. When we go crashing through the woods shouting for it to come out so we can help it, the soul will stay in hiding. But if we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while, the soul may show itself.

~ from THE COURAGE TO TEACH by Parker Palmer
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