Parker J. Palmer
Barrett-Koehler Publishers, 240 pages
It may be remarkable to think of Parker Palmer at age 80, but it makes sense. After all, many of us can’t imagine a time before him. We learned to teach wisely from the heart because of his own wise teaching from the heart. We learned to name our pain and name it out loud because of his naming his own. We discovered our vocation and began to let our life speak after nearly memorizing his classic book “Let Your Life Speak” and giving it away to countless friends and parishioners. And now here he is again at the brink of everything: overlooking death and bringing us with him.
“On the Brink of Everything” is the book that Palmer didn’t think was possible until his friend and editor encouraged him to collect his scattered writings on aging, along with poems that have nourished his aging spirit. He speaks of grace, gravity and getting old in his characteristic plain, honest voice. In seven sections, he offers the insights he has learned from his experience. Palmer is especially keen on generations remaining in conversation with each other. It’s here that all who are growing old (and who isn’t?) will stay engaged in life until we each face the brink of everything. To that end, the singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer has composed three songs to accompany his essays, which are available for free. We live in fractured times. It’s important to listen to our elders — the ones who are mature enough to share wisdom for these troubled times and our troubled lives. Palmer is in that company.