Remembering Dad

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.

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July 22nd, 2015

The imprint a father leaves on his child remains. Parker remembers his deceased Dad and the values he imparted with a poem.

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July 15th, 2015

Thomas Merton and Lao Tzu make compelling cases for flowing around obstacles rather than butting up against them. If we do so, we fight inequities in the world with equanimity and make a life worth living for all.

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July 8th, 2015

“How can we learn to embrace with love the whole of who we are?” Parker Palmer with three tools to help us show up as we really are and live and love fully as we engage with the world.

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July 1st, 2015

As we celebrate the Fourth of July in the States, Parker Palmer contemplates the hope, the promise, and the opportunity of “we the people” with a song from Leonard Cohen.

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June 24th, 2015

Recent events in the life of the world have made it challenging to engage in trust and hope. Parker Palmer turns to another type of knowing that leads to grace.

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June 17th, 2015

Father’s Day is just around the corner in the U.S. Parker Palmer shares some of his dad’s most humorous gems and a poem by Dana Gioia to celebrate all the men in our lives.

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June 10th, 2015

In remembering a great civil rights leader not many know of, Parker Palmer shares a story about a man of few words.

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June 3rd, 2015

With Gerard Manley Hopkins as his guide, Parker reflects on the sacredness and beauty of life and difference.

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May 27th, 2015

Inspired by the words and actions of Thich Nhat Hanh, Parker Palmer asks what it means to hold our differences in ways that open us to possibilities we never would have imagined.

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May 20th, 2015

How we ask each other questions can evoke a deeper sense of self. Words of advice from Parker Palmer and a poem by Denise Levertov on the power of asking with good intention, and hearing each other into being.

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May 13th, 2015

The word “depression” is used to describe a personal condition as well as large-scale economic collapse. Parker Palmer shares a story of personal story of his last encounter with depression and two interviews that talking about depression and economic crisis.

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May 6th, 2015

A trip down the Grand Canyon (and, of course, a poem) reveals a truth and shows us all that we are most whole when we live in the layers of our being.

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April 29th, 2015

In silence, there is a depth of communion that trumps what we can achieve with words. In laughter, there is a depth of communion that trumps what we can achieve with solemnity. Parker Palmer on shadow and quiet.

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April 22nd, 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.

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April 15th, 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.

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April 8th, 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.

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April 1st, 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.

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March 25th, 2015

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

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March 18th, 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.

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March 11th, 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.

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March 4th, 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.

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February 25th, 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.

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February 18th, 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.

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February 11th, 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!

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January 28th, 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.

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January 21st, 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.

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January 14th, 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.

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January 7th, 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.

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December 31st, 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.

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December 24th, 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.”

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December 17th, 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.

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December 14th, 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.

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December 10th, 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.

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December 3rd, 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.

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November 26th, 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.

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November 19th, 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.

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November 12th, 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.

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November 5th, 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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October 29th, 2014

With the elections next week, a story of forgiveness and redemption from a civil rights legend.

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October 22nd, 2014

As we acknowledge the pain and suffering in the world, we must also look for the possibility within us as we aim to change what’s wrong.

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October 15th, 2014

More than 50 years ago, Thomas Merton warned that the pressure of modern life might distract us from the wisdom that makes work fruitful.

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October 8th, 2014

The poet W.S. Merwin calls us to our mystical connections with the people in front and behind us.

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October 1st, 2014

With the political season in full swing, a reminder that the great prophets were courageous, outrageous people who railed against the powers-that-be. And a poem by Mary Oliver.

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September 24th, 2014

Autumn reminds our Quaker columnist about the beauty of the Earth and the death that is to come. Through the words of Rilke, an exploration of the wellspring of gratitude.

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September 17th, 2014

Anger is something many of us try to deny. Rather than quelling it, what if we were to use it as an animating force for personal transformation and social change?

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September 10th, 2014

Inspired by the simplicity and power of Naomi Shihab Nye’s story, here’s a list of five simple things we can do to help with healing the heart of democracy.

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September 3rd, 2014

How does one have a more supple heart that’s read to hold life’s suffering and joy? Finding a way in through a Mary Oliver poem and some guiding words.

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August 27th, 2014

As school begins for many students across the U.S., a reminder to praise our teachers and offer “soft eyes” of compassion to our children.

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August 19th, 2014

Whether you’re inwardly or outwardly lost, there’s an alternative to panicking. Advice on how to find where you are with a David Wagoner poem.

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August 13th, 2014

Thoughtful words on standing in solidarity with others suffering from depression and the healing experience of a poem.