Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. True self, when violated, will always resist us, sometimes at great cost, holding our lives in check until we honor its truth.
(Is this perhaps why I've literally gotten ILL in my work? Why my body started reacting violently to certain relationships and circumstances not aligned with my soul's purpose? Hmmm.........)
Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what is truly about--quite apart from what I would like it to be about--or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.
How we are to listen to our lives is a question worth exploring. In our culture, we tend to gather information in ways that do not work very well when the source is the human soul. The soul is not responsive to subpoenas or cross-examinations. At best it will stand in the dock only long enough to plead the Fifth Amendment. At worst it will jump bail and never be heard from again. The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.
The soul is like a wild animal--tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well merge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Parker Palmer: on Listening to the Soul....
My dear friend Brian Mogren brought my attention to these words today from Writer, Activist, Educator, Parker Palmer. I find them wildly resonant, and a reminder of the call to LISTEN. I've been a fan of Parker Palmer for a few years now, being introduced to his work through my former student, Kristin O'Connell, who was taking a class from him at Carleton. The Divine Julie Landsman has also brought Palmer's work closer to home -- in our monthly conversations on Race, Class, Privilege, and Education.
So many blessings to receive these words, have them arrive through multiple sources. For me, it's simply more evidence to "PAY ATTENTION!"
I hope they resonate for you in some capacity this day.
Excerpted from "Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation" by Parker J. Palmer. Copyright (c) 2000 by Jossey Bass, Inc., Publishers, a company of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.