Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Parker J. Palmer, Author
Parker J. Palmer, Author Jossey-Bass $18.95 (117p) ISBN 978-0-7879-4735-4
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-470-58063-9
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-7879-7500-5
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Hardcover - 126 pages - 978-0-585-23832-6
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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.)
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