“Let Your Life Speak”

A very small book came my way recently called “Let Your Life Speak” by Parker J. Palmer. It talks about our vocation. At first I thought that was a strange word to use when talking about being who you really are. When I think of vocation I think of an occupation, business or profession. I did not relate it to a calling at all and I knew the author was not using in a slang. Using words correctly is one of my pet peeves. I am not afraid to look up a word to learn its origin and various meanings in order to use it correctly either. Anyone visiting my home might notice the five inch thick copy of Webster’s dictionary by the front door. The magnifying glass on top helps us over 40 folks read the small type. Learning that vocation also meant “calling” gave me a new way of looking at this thing we call life and therefore my interest in this book. The book store shelves are full of self help books on letting go or ego, finding your true self and use a gazillion different phrases to describe this. I like to believe that these exist in order to get the message across to every person in a way they can understand. Hope fully one book of the many will have the magic phrase the “gets it” across to an individual. Parker J. Palmer chose to use “vocation”. The writer begins his discussion of vocation this way: “Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what if is truly about-quite apart from what I would like to be about- or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions. That insight is hidden in the word vacation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue; it means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live- but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.” Powerful words indeed! He continues to explain how the ego is threatened by this calling and the hiding behind it that is trying to get out into the light. The ego in effect tries to divide and conquer by wearing masks of protection and fictitious self talk in an attempt to make the true self believe that it is not worthy. The ego is however part of what of our whole being and has its place but it can also rob us of a great gift, the gift of being the person you or I was born to be, our true self. This is what really makes us whole. “We arrive in this world with birthright gifts –then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them. “ Palmer speaks of how this gift is our birthright and should be take care of. ”I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch. “Wow! Was ever this a little gem for me! I can’t say that I had ever thought of being who I really as a gift not only to me but all I come in contact with. Another interesting point about this book is that while many authors seem to spend all their time talking about how to overcome the ego, Palmer talks about becoming friends with it. He says “To embrace weakness, liability, and darkness as part of who I am gives that part less sway over me, because all it ever wanted was the be acknowledged as part of my whole self.” That puts a new twist on the word “holistic” now doesn’t it? Now, listen to your life and find your true vocation.

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