Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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****Let Your Life Speak

Listening for the Voice of Vocation

by Parker J. Palmer

Reviewed October 26, 2004.
Jossey-Bass (Wiley), San Francisco, 2000.  109 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #4, Christian Nonfiction

Let Your Life Speak is a little book about discovering your true vocation.  Parker J. Palmer says, “My youthful understanding of ‘Let your life speak’ led me to conjure up the highest values I could imagine and then try to conform my life to them whether they were mine or not.”

He goes on to explain, “Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue.  It means a calling that I hear.  Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

Palmer talks about his own struggle to follow his vocation.  Even his dark times and a battle with depression helped bring him closer to God.  He found important clues to his own vocation hidden in the difficult moments.

I found his views about vocation to be wonderfully freeing.  He says, “The deepest vocational question is not ‘What ought I to do with my life?’  It is the more elemental and demanding ‘Who am I?  What is my nature?’”

He said that when he leads retreats, “people take copious notes on what the retreat leader says, and they sometimes take notes on the words of certain wise people in the group, but rarely, if ever, do they take notes on what they themselves say.  We listen for guidance everywhere except from within.”

At this point, it occurred to me that part of the reason I am enjoying writing Sonderbooks so much is that no one told me I should do it.  I’m doing it simply because I love reading and I love telling people about books and I love messing around with computers.  So this is something that comes from my true self, and it brings me joy.

That fits with another theme of this book.  Parker J. Palmer describes how he has come to understand vocation “not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received.”  This uplifting book can help you on your journey toward discovering that gift.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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