“Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation” is an intriguing book by Parker Palmer which explores the journey he took during a year-long sabbatical in an “intentional” Quaker community in Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania. Instead of leaving at year’s end, he became the community’s dean of studies and remained there for 10 years. His story teaches the reader to listen to the “inner teacher,” and follow its leadings toward a sense of meaning and purpose. He shares insights gained from darkness and depression as well as fulfillment and joy, helping the reading to interpret their vocation as a higher calling.
“Parker Palmer’s graceful little book is the best work I’ve ever read on discernment and vocation. In six chapters and just under 120 elegantly written pages, Palmer presses home the point that vocation emerges from within us and that we must listen carefully to our own lives if we are to discover it. Taking on someone else’s concept of calling or subjecting ourselves to an external and alien set of values and objectives will do violence to ourselves and to our usefulness.” -David Baer.
Vocation is a gift, not a goal.
The core message of the book is to determine one’s calling through careful and thorough introspection, choosing one’s path based on your natural gifts and limitations. This perspective is at odds with the traditional American method of forcing one’s self through extreme discomfort to achieve success. Palmer calls vocation “a gift, not a goal.” “He deftly illustrates his point with examples from the lives of people he admires, such as Rosa Parks, Annie Dillard, and Vaclav Havel. The writing displays a gentle wisdom and economy of style that leaves the reader curious for more insight into the author’s Quaker philosophy.” Publisher’s Weekly.
Choose your vocation wisely.
“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” – Frederick Buechner
Frederick Buechner famously said: “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” Such a simple yet profound thought to consider. For your vocation is not just a way to pay the bills, but where you will spend most of your waking hours for the majority of your life. Choosing a vocation without extensive self-reflection could end in years of depression and discontent.
It’s never too late for a fresh start.
It’s never too late to explore a fresh start. Parker’s year-long sabbatical turned into a decade of joyful work. Whether you’re 22 or 62, take a moment today to look within and consider if the path you’ve chosen is a good fit with your God-given gifts and talents. And if it’s not, be brave enough to start fresh and try something new.