On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Parker J. Palmer. Berrett-Koehler, $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-5230-9543-8
Palmer (Healing the Heart of Democracy), an author and poet now in his 80s, telegraphs insights from “the brink of everything” in this collection of lessons gleaned from contemplating one’s life while nearing death. “There’s no antidote for the gravity that takes us to the grave,” he writes. “But there is also a countervailing force called ‘levity.’ ” Palmer includes quotes from spiritual guides such as Thomas Merton and William Sloane Coffin next to personal memoir, diary entries, excerpts from speeches, and quotes from poets such as Mary Oliver, Rumi, May Sarton, Dylan Thomas, and W.B. Yeats. Insights into his own aging as an “angry Quaker” are filled out by a diagnosis of America’s spiritual maladies and broken body politic: “When we lack the moral imagination to do something else with our suffering, we do violence.” Palmer encourages readers to regain their ability to convert suffering into resurrection; instead of fear, the path to recovery is an embrace of the good, bad, and ugly in each person. For Palmer, radical acceptance eschews perfection in favor of integrity. Warm, generous, and funny, this impassioned book invites readers to the deep end of life where authentic soul work and human transformation become pressing concerns. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2018
Release date: 06/26/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-5230-9545-2
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Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-369-32675-1
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