Parker J. Palmer

Parker J. Palmer

is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.
By Parker J. Palmer April 22, 2015

We all have one of those transcendent moments when we're immersed in nature and experience the immensity of it all. On this Earth Day, Parker Palmer shares one of those times while camping in the Grand Canyon.

By Parker J. Palmer April 15, 2015

Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering. But how do we turn the power of suffering toward new life? It depends on our willingness to exercise our hearts so that when suffering strikes, they are suppler and more able to break open to new life.

By Parker J. Palmer April 08, 2015

We all want to be of service, to be needed and of use to others and to ourselves. Parker Palmer tells the playful story of a neighbor who takes this to an extreme.

By Parker J. Palmer April 01, 2015

We are born baffled. Acknowledging this can be key to becoming a writer or a person who seeks to understand the world around you better. Parker Palmer muses on a writing life and distills his experience into three principles of living deeply and richly within this world.

By Parker J. Palmer March 25, 2015

How do we celebrate our diminishment as we age? We look for beauty in "that which the world rejects as ugly."

By Parker J. Palmer March 18, 2015

Regret and humility are two ways we relate to the past, but they can spawn very different approaches to life. Embracing adversity can open up hope for the future depending on how we embrace it.

By Parker J. Palmer March 11, 2015

Inspired by a mother's observation of her toddler's awe of the world, Parker Palmer reflects on the mystery of the world and the grace of wholeness — delighting in the gift of life as a septuagenarian.

By Parker J. Palmer March 04, 2015

Parker Palmer shares one of his favorite stories about the Dalai Lama and a poem from Stephen Levine on the majesty of humor and love.

By Parker J. Palmer February 25, 2015

Aided by Hafiz, Parker Palmer reminds us that the inner life does not have to be a somber one, but a life rich with experience.

By Parker J. Palmer February 18, 2015

We are told to embrace the fact that death is part of life. Embracing emotional honesty, Parker Palmer shakes his salty fist at fate's inevitable hand with a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

By Parker J. Palmer February 11, 2015

Cynicism beckons to us with ease at times. But how do we remain open to the good within and around us? A reminder to keep hope alive when the demon inside us bites down. And, lyrical lines from Mary Oliver!

By Parker J. Palmer January 28, 2015

No matter what decade of your life you're in, your journey to find a fulfilling work life is one often clouded with worry and self-doubt. Parker Palmer writes this helpful story about finding the way — not by what opens in front of you but by what closes behind you.

By Parker J. Palmer January 21, 2015

The joys and sorrows of your life are sure to come and go. A commitment to learning at any age will sustain you and help you weather the peaks and troughs of life.

By Parker J. Palmer January 14, 2015

When we succumb to the distractions of this life and the will of others, we must hold onto something. But what? Some questions to turn over and explore to guide you.

By Parker J. Palmer January 07, 2015

There are few more influential writers than the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. His writings continue to inspire, mentor, and impact new generations of readers. Our columnist Parker Palmer remembers when he first met Merton's words and how they continue to shape him today.

By Parker J. Palmer December 31, 2014

On this New Year's Eve, our weekly columnist wrestles with the uncertainty of the year to come. Rather than making resolutions, he poses five questions to ask yourself to carry into the New Year.

By Parker J. Palmer December 24, 2014

The Buddhist concept of the "beginner's mind" may offer a way to understand the simple meanings of the Christmas story — and "how can we love one another in ways that midwife their incarnation."

By Parker J. Palmer December 17, 2014

In a world of fomenting darkness, a poem calls us to be beacons of light in the shadow for others to be guided by.

By Parker J. Palmer December 14, 2014

A tribute to the children and adults who died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School honored with a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. A list we must return to and remember out of love and hope for a safer world.

By Parker J. Palmer December 10, 2014

For the introverts in us, winter can be a time of reflection to assess and remember our own inner truths. Includes a poem by David Whyte.

By Parker J. Palmer December 03, 2014

When we ask our deepest questions, the answers do not come immediately. And that, dear reader, is why we must choose them with care.

By Parker J. Palmer November 26, 2014

For Thanksgiving, Parker Palmer asks us to find new ways to be filled with gratitude and praise. It's in the gratitude for the ground we stand on, the blessing of togetherness, and the kindness of strangers, that we remember our work is loving the world.

By Parker J. Palmer November 19, 2014

The scarcity assumption can be a self-fulfilling prophecy — and a killer of the spirit. With a poem from Wendell Berry and a few thoughts of his own.

By Parker J. Palmer November 12, 2014

Sometimes the framing question needs to be, well, questioned. A "clearness committee" helps our columnist find a way of asking a transformative question instead of a question of loss.

By Parker J. Palmer November 05, 2014

In the face of so much pain and suffering, some words of advice on how to persevere and the importance of being faithful to your gifts.

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