Parker Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, writes that we have two choices in dark nights of the soul: to break apart or to break open. One choice leads us down the path to bitterness and brittleness, to distance ourselves from people and their capacity for beauty and kindness. The other leads us down the path to vulnerability, gentleness, deep and lasting connection.
..integrity that comes from being what you are
The divided life may be endemic, but wholeness is always a choice.
Making that choice, he argues, requires that we..
.. create spaces between us where the soul feels safe enough to show up and make its claim on our lives.
Here is the ultimate irony of the divided life: live behind a wall long enough, and the true self you tried to hide from the world disappears from your own view! The wall itself and the world outside it become all that you know. Eventually, you even forget that the wall is there — and that hidden behind it is someone called “you.”
Nic Askew ness
Palmer calls this rift “the gap between our onstage performance and backstage reality” and writes:
If we want to create spaces that are safe for the soul, we need to understand why the soul so rarely shows up in everyday life.
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.
Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people-it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.
What is a Divided Life?
there’s not governor in there saying – in order to keep myself safe – i better express myself this way..
we learn at some point that it’s not safe to be in the world as who we truly are.. that if we express our true identity – we’ll get marginalized/ignored/invisible/disliked/hated
we try to play a role that’s acceptable
for a lot of people – the divided life becomes a source of pain – and we have to try to close that gap
i can’t think of a sadder way to die than to think – i never showed up in this world as my true self..
Parker J. Palmer (born 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.
Palmer served for fifteen years as Senior Associate of the now defunct American Association of Higher Education. He is the founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, which oversees the “Courage to Teach” program for K-12 educators across the country and parallel programs for people in other professions, including medicine, law, ministry and philanthropy.
He has published a dozen poems, more than one hundred essays and eight books. Palmer’s work has been recognized with ten honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press, and grants from the Danforth Foundation, the Lilly Endowment and the Fetzer Institute.
An overview and critical review of Palmer’s written work on education can be found at infed.org, an open, independent, not-for-profit site established in 1995 to explore educational theory and practice.
trust your own outrage – Courtney
robustness at holding that complexity – Courtney
complexity can only be held by community – intergenerational community – Parker
different horizons.. view points.. – Parker
self-labeling is dangerous stuff – do what you do – Parker
a lot of very powerful people have no time to pause.. they don’t create those spaces.. some of the most unethical things in the world happen because of that cocophany – Courtney
in clinical depression – all my faculties were useless.. my emotions were dead.. my will was miniscule… the – i can make it one more day – that wild thing – the soul is like a wild animal. knows how to survive in places there’s very little to eat. but also like a wild animal.. it’s very shy. the safe space is where the wild animal can put in an appearance. (non-safe space – pushing it – elevator pitch et al) – Parker
hacking – as the simplicity on the other side of complexity. even more important we create those spaces.. because things happen so fast.. we’re not creating those spaces. – Courtney
a movement invites its critiques into the tent – Parker
to hold hope these days is to be a rebel – Parker
1\ be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart… fall madly in love with life.. take risks on its behalf
2\ as you integrate ignorance and failure.. do same with self… introduce bright self to shadow self.. when you are able to say.. i am all of the above.. shadow can serve the good… as a person who has experienced 3 deep dives into depression.. i know this. too many don’t name/claim shadows not wanting to look weak. but shadows unchecked.. do damage to good. if you choose to live an unexamined life.. please don’t take a job that involves other people
3\ as you welcome whatever alien within self.. extend same welcome w/whatever you find alien in outer world.. welcome other ness.. by 2045 the majority of americans will be people of color.. renewal will not come from people afraid of other ness
4\ take on big jobs worth doing, ie: spread of love, peace, justice… rather than ones where effectiveness measured by short term success.. take on impossible job.. standard – faithfulness – that trumps effectiveness. the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on. ie: Ed
5\ violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering..
suffering can be transformed into something that brings life.. not death
6\ daily keep your death before your eyes.. if the unexamined life is not worth living.. the unlived life is not worth examining..
live as variously as possible
via Maria – healing heart of democracy
people discover that parallel experiences led them to contrary conclusions, they are more likely to hold their differences respectfully, knowing that they have experienced similar forms of grief. The more you know about another person’s story, the less possible it is to see that person as your enemy
i know you ness
The democratic experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into community, conflict into the energy of creativity, and tension into an opening toward the common good. We can help keep the experiment alive by repairing and maintaining democracy’s neglected infrastructure… the invisible dynamics of the human heart and the visible venues of our lives in which those dynamics are formed
For those of us who want to see democracy survive and thrive … the heart is where everything begins: that grounded place in each of us where we can overcome fear, rediscover that we are members of one another, and embrace the conflicts that threaten democracy as openings to new life for us and for our nation.
self-talk as data..
We can see the future only in imagination, so we must continue to dream of freedom, peace, and justice for everyone.
wise words from Parker Palmer
“(1) Don’t give advice, unless someone insists. Instead, be fully present, listen deeply, and ask the kind of questions that give the other a chance to express more of his or her own truth, whatever it may be. (2) If you find yourself receiving unwanted advice from someone close to you, smile and ask politely if you can pay a little less this month.”
The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is
Many of us “helper” types are as much or more concerned with being seen as good helpers as we are with serving the soul-deep needs of the person who needs help.
“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”