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Offering Insights Aplenty: Quotes by Parker J. Palmer

Updated on September 2, 2016

Parker. J. Palmer

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When I mentioned my affinity for Parker J. Palmer's blog posts at www.onbeing.org to a friend earlier this year, her immediate response was to ask if I'd read his book A Hidden Wholeness. I hadn't, and, truth be told, I still haven't. However, I've read dozens of his blog posts at www.onbeing.org. These have ranged in topic from forgiveness to the perils of offering unsolicited advice to confronting writer's block. Quite often I am inspired by his thoughts, and, moreover, pleased by his written prowess. Having adding a significant number of quotes by him to my collection over the past two years, I thought it was time to share the wealth with any interested HubPages readers. Enjoy.

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“I am a novice in every new moment of the day, each of which presents possibilities unknown and untried. Why not embrace that fact and see what happens?”


“But since writing is one of my main ways of engaging the world, whatever I write will help me get reconnected and might even more me toward other ways of being useful.”


“…let’s remind each other that the planet cries for all of us to contribute our personal gifts—whatever they may be—to the common good.”


“…we all live at the intersection of our small worlds and the big one around us. If we want to serve others, we must attend to both. Since writing is one of my main ways of connecting with life at large, writer’s block is a vexing problem for me.”

Parker J. Palmer

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“In a world that can be as heedless and heartless as ours, kindness must grow from deep roots if it is to be strong and sustainable.”


“Most of us value a lot of things and serve a variety of purposes; some of them reinforce each other and some tug at each other.”


“I never saw my vocational journey in terms of achieving great things. I saw it then as I see it now: a series of proves into my gifts and the needs of the world, trying to discover where they might intersect.”

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“An infant in a manger is as vulnerable as human beings get, and what an infant needs is simple: food, shelter, and protection from harm. The same is true of all the good words seeded in our souls that long to become embodied in our midst. If these vulnerable but powerful parts of ourselves are to be incarnated—to suffer yet survive and thrive, transforming us and the wounded world around us—they need to be swaddled in unconditional love.”


“Write about what you want to know because it intrigues and baffles you. That’s the hunger that keeps me engaged with a craft I find endlessly challenging…”

A young man writing.
A young man writing. | Source

“For 50 years I’ve been writing almost daily. I’m driven not by expertise but by my own bafflement about many things—some of them ‘in here’ and some of them ‘out there.’ Every time I write, I’m surprised by what I discover about myself and/or the world.

So I no longer wait until I have a clear idea to start putting words on the page. If I did, I’d never write a word! I simply start writing, trusting that the writing itself will help me dig into my bafflement, uncover what I already know, and point me toward what I need to learn next.

And if tomorrow I find out that I got it wrong, I know that none of my words will go to waste. Instead, they become compost for the next round of growth.”


“Contemplation is any way one has of penetrating illusion and touching reality.”

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“Catastrophe, too, can be a contemplative path, as pitched and perilous as it may be.

I’m still on that path, and every day I await the next disillusionment to reveal whatever I need to know about myself and/or the world.”


“…despite our surface differences, we human beings are joined at the heart in the most profound experience of life.”


“May those who grieve be comforted, and may loss make all of us more thoughtful.”


“Revolutions that succeed are always for something rather than merely against this or that.”

Children playing pirates.

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“…play is an expression of gratitude for the great gift of life.”


“There’s often a huge disconnect between the good words we speak and those we incarnate in our lives. In personal relations and politics, in the mass media, in the academy, and in organized religion, our good words tend to float away even as they leave our lips, ascending to the altitude where they neither reflect nor connect with our lived experience.”


“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

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“Our strongest gifts are usually those we are barely aware of possessing. They are part of our God-given nature, with us from the moment we drew first breath, and we are no more conscious of having them then we are of breathing.”


“We come from mystery and we return to mystery.”


“How could I abide my own gravitas without the leaven of humor?”


“Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places.”

Another quote about humility.
Another quote about humility. | Source

“The highest form of love is the love that allows for intimacy without the annihilation of difference.”


“Humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen—and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.”


“I was born baffled.”


“True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.”

Parker J. Palmer

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“Scarcity need not be the law of life—not if we know how to tap into the endless resources of self and community.”


“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”


“We need a coat with two pockets. In one pocket there is dust, and in the other pocket there is gold. We need a coat with two pockets to remind us who we are.”

“The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.”


“Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”


“We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves.”

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“Every time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up.”


“Science requires an engagement with the world, a live encounter between the knower and the known.”


“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.”

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