In reading Parker Palmer’s book, “Let Your Life Speak”, I found resonance with both vocation as quest, and on the value of when one ‘way closes’.
This aspect of vocation as a quest, or a journey spoke meaningfully to me. The phrase “arrive as a sense of self and vocation only after a long journey through alien lands” (18) aligns with my own experience. Looking back at critical incidents (especially from my teen years), and the acceptance of roles and the achievement of ministry goals, I have been recently confronted with the thought that these events were the paint of my life, not the canvas nor the picture. In seeing that my “CV” is not my life, I can attend to the very core of my being, address my liabilities and fears (30), and unearth and receive the gift of who I am in “inner light” (11).
As a leader who is walking through a major boundary in my life and leadership, I found the chapter of way closing to be significant. Palmer shares the wisdom of a fellow Quaker, Ruth, with us.
“A lot of “way” has closed behind me, and that’s had the same guiding effect as a way opening in front of me” (38).
I am learning to harness the words of others around my limitations as well as my potential (55). In 2017 a friend saw the deficit of my unfinished education and called me to wrestle with it. He saw that if I stayed where I was in my own development, I would stagnate. At first, I reacted arrogantly, but eventually, seeking the counsel of others, this led to developing a plan to pursue and finish my Masters, with a desire to move on and complete Doctoral work. Even now, it is tempting to see my “being set aside” as a strategic error, rather than a gift — an opportunity to deepen my learning about my self, my nature, my true vocation and my ongoing development. My friend saw that I was coasting, and was not afraid to enable me to see it. I see that part of the way closing in my life came about so that I could devote some time to my life and leadership development as part of my journey, and I am grateful for that.
Parker J. Palmer. 2000. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
His Bio has some details.
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