After five years as a community organizer, Parker J. Palmer became enamored with the Quaker tradition of social justice. He believes when “we, the people” re-examine connections to beliefs and communities, it creates an opportunity to heal an ailing democracy.
I encountered the work of Parker J. Palmer in the early 1990s, when a friend handed me his short but profound collection of essays, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. The essays touch on his own personal journey through depression, his path in aligning his role in life with his soul’s calling, and the lessons he has learned about the inner dimensions of leadership. Let Your Life Speak became a constant companion for me over the next few years, coming into my life as it did during a period of personal transition and questioning.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of spending time with Palmer. What impresses me most is that his humility, insight and authenticity come through every bit as clearly in person as they do in his books. I was not at all surprised when “Utne Reader” named him one of their top 25 visionaries in 2011.
Palmer often refers to the metaphor of a Mobius strip — a surface that blurs the distinctions between inner and outer — in his writings and teachings. Palmer has used the metaphor to invite individuals to explore the integrity between their own values and their vocation. More recently, he has extended the metaphor to the state of our democracy, and he challenges citizens to consider the relationship with our hearts, our connections to our communities and a healthy, functioning democracy. Palmer will be making a rare appearance in Seattle this month, and I was eager to catch up with him before his trip. Continue reading…