Parker J. Palmer
In each edition of IG Mix, we ask a guest writer two questions about serving in ministry.
What keeps you up at night?
At age 82, I need my “beauty sleep,” so I’m not inclined to stay up late! But during the day I spend a lot of time working with people half my age on problems related to the advancement of love, truth, and justice in our suffering world. My colleagues are not only younger than I, they also embody life experiences I would know nothing about if I did not have daily chances to learn from people of color, women, and activists around the world. So every evening, I need to take time in solitude and silence to let everything I’ve learned that day settle into my mind and heart as seeds of possibility for the next day’s work. Every truly creative process proceeds when we’re asleep as well as when we’re awake, if we can hold those seeds in peace.
What gets you up in the morning?
On most days, I get up early because the new day gives me another chance to cultivate the seeds planted the day before, and work with others to grow them into something that will feed “the human possibility.” Of course, there are discouraging days when the obstacles to love, truth, and justice feel so daunting that I’m tempted to lay the work down. But even on hardest days, something happens to remind me that through my younger colleagues, I’m connected to the generation coming up behind them. That means children the age of my grandchildren, precious kids who will inherit the world we leave behind—and inherit as well whatever we elders leave behind by way of hope or despair. I want my legacy to be one of hope. So I get up every day with the prayer that for yet another day, my life can represent hope in action.
Parker J. Palmer is the author of On the Brink of Everything, Let Your Life Speak, The Courage to Teach, and A Hidden Wholeness.