On the Brink of Everything

Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Parker Palmer (Author)

Publication date: 06/26/2018

On the Brink of Everything
From beloved bestselling author Parker J. Palmer (Let Your Life Speak) comes a beautiful book of meditations and reflections on eight decades of life, the process of aging, his own spiritual journey (which has never been confined to a creed), and his vocation as a writer and thinker.Aging as a passage of discovery and engagement From bestselling author Parker J. Palmer comes a brave and beautiful book for all who want to age reflectively, seeking new insights and life-giving ways to engage in the world. “Age itself,” he says, “is no excuse to wade in the shallows. It's a reason to dive deep and take creative risks.” Looking back on eight decades of life—and on his work as a writer, teacher, and activist—Palmer explores what he's learning about self and world, inviting readers to explore their own experience. In prose and poetry—and three downloadable songs written for the book by the gifted Carrie Newcomer—he meditates on the meanings of life, past, present, and future. “The laws of nature that dictate sundown dictate our demise. But how we travel the arc toward the sunset of our lives is ours to choose: will it be denial, defiance, or collaboration?”

With compassion and chutzpah, gravitas and levity, Palmer writes about cultivating a vital inner and outer life, finding meaning in suffering and joy, and forming friendships across the generations that bring new life to young and old alike.

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

From beloved bestselling author Parker J. Palmer (Let Your Life Speak) comes a beautiful book of meditations and reflections on eight decades of life, the process of aging, his own spiritual journey (which has never been confined to a creed), and his vocation as a writer and thinker.Aging as a passage of discovery and engagement From bestselling author Parker J. Palmer comes a brave and beautiful book for all who want to age reflectively, seeking new insights and life-giving ways to engage in the world. “Age itself,” he says, “is no excuse to wade in the shallows. It's a reason to dive deep and take creative risks.” Looking back on eight decades of life—and on his work as a writer, teacher, and activist—Palmer explores what he's learning about self and world, inviting readers to explore their own experience. In prose and poetry—and three downloadable songs written for the book by the gifted Carrie Newcomer—he meditates on the meanings of life, past, present, and future. “The laws of nature that dictate sundown dictate our demise. But how we travel the arc toward the sunset of our lives is ours to choose: will it be denial, defiance, or collaboration?”

With compassion and chutzpah, gravitas and levity, Palmer writes about cultivating a vital inner and outer life, finding meaning in suffering and joy, and forming friendships across the generations that bring new life to young and old alike.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Parker Palmer

Parker J. Palmer is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He is the founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal.

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Table of Contents

With Gratitude p. 6

Prelude
p. 9

I. The View from the Brink: What I Can See from Here
p. 17

Introduction
On the Brink of Everything
Does My Life Have Meaning?
Withering into the Truth
Grand Canyon II. Young & Old: The Dance of the Generations p. 34
Introduction
The Music of Mentoring
Welcome to the Human Race
Living from the Inside Out
November 22nd III. Getting Real: From Illusion to Reality p. 54

Introduction
Contemplative by Catastrophe
A Friendship, a Love, a Rescue
Down Is the Way to Well-being
Notes from a Week in the Winter Woods
Welcome Home IV. Work & Vocation: A Life in Writing p. 82
Introduction
The Accidental Author
Born Baffled
The Poem I Would Have Writ
Begin Again
The World Once Green Again
V. Keep Reaching Out: Staying Engaged with the World
p. 109

Introduction
What's an Angry Quaker to Do?
The Soul of a Patriot
In Praise of Diversity
Seeking Sanctuary
The Winter Woods VI. Keep Reaching In: Staying Engaged with Your Soul p. 134
Introduction
Embracing the Human Frailty
Confessing My Complicity
Heartbreak and Hope for New Life
A Season of Paradox
Appalachian Autumn VII. Over the Edge: Where We Go When We Die p. 156
Introduction
Fierce with Reality
A Wilderness Pilgrimage
Waving Goodbye from Afar Postlude p. 166 Why Should I Ever Be Sad? Two Toasts About the Author p. 168 Endnotes p. 169

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Endorsements

“Parker Palmer is one of our wisest minds and lives and one of my greatest mentors. He has the spirit of a poet and the stature of a prophet. There is no one I'd rather eavesdrop on as he ponders ‘the brink of everything.' This book is a companion for not merely surviving a fractured world but embodying—like Parker—the fiercely honest and gracious wholeness that is ours to claim at every stage of life.”
—Krista Tippett, founder of On Being Studios, author of
Einstein's God and Becoming Wise , and winner of the 2013 National Humanities Medal

“Parker Palmer is the most integral and wholehearted teacher of our age. For nearly eight decades, he has seen much, questioned everything, and returned with a wisdom essential to everyone. His latest book,
On the Brink of Everything , is a deep reflection on aging that offers a master's earned view of the large and the small and how we're all vital threads woven together by life. This book will stir your soul and bring you closer to everything.”
—Mark Nepo, author of
More Together Than Alone and The Book of Awakening

“Parker J. Palmer's tenth wise book,
On the Brink of Everything , is a wondrously rich mix of reality and possibility, comfort and story, helpful counsel and poetry, in the voice of a friend. It's an honest wake-up chime, no matter where you are in your own time line, because somehow, these pages hold all of time—past and present, stirring together—refreshing the spirit. This is a book of immense gratitude, consolation, and praise.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of
Transfer and Voices in the Air and National Book Award finalist

“Our entire culture is deeply in need of true elders, and you can't be one until you have arrived there—chronologically, spiritually, and intellectually. Parker J. Palmer is a writer and a man who has clearly earned the title of elder. And he elders with such readability and humor! This book is a generous gift to all of us—and to our attempts at a truly human civilization.”
—Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation and author of
Falling Upward and Adam's Return
“Parker J. Palmer's books are long-treasured companions on my personal journey. His newest offering is clear-eyed and good-humored, luminously prophetic and disarmingly honest. It is tender to the core for our shared human condition and fierce with love and unguarded hope for our shared human possibility. It has the feel of a lovely kitchen table conversation between the author and reader, exploring thoughtful aging, finding meaning in hard times, and how we can deepen and balance our inner and outer landscapes at any stage of life. This book is a generous gift to a worried and weary world.”
—Carrie Newcomer, musician, recording artist of
The Beautiful Not Yet , author of A Permeable Life , and Grammy Award–winning songwriter

“Parker Palmer has given me so many gifts through the years. His writing has done for me what I can only hope mine does for others.
On the Brink of Everything has given me new and special gifts. Parker, now in his late seventies, has helped this guy in his early sixties think of my years ahead as ‘triple wrapped in mystery.' Savoring this book is a kind of mentorship in aging, and it ends in a crescendo of poetry. My first thought when I turned the last page: ‘I want to read this again from the beginning, starting right now.'”
—Brian D. McLaren, author of
The Great Spiritual Migration

“Parker Palmer has been a mentor and midwife to countless young people in my generation, including me. When I was in my twenties standing at a crossroads, his book
Let Your Life Speak inspired me to pursue an untraditional path as an activist-artist; he released the music within me. Now in my thirties, as the cacophony of vitriol and violence becomes deafening, his friendship teaches me how to remain faithful to my own melodies and keep playing them. In the darkness, Parker has taught me how to wonder at the night sky, keep death in my mind's eye, and listen to the wisdom of my grandfather and ancestors, whose music lives within mine. He has poured these insights into a book that feels more like a treasure chest. On the Brink of Everything is filled with gems of wisdom, each a prism that helps us see our own vast interiority and sing our own truths. My greatest aspiration is to journey through life and arrive at the brink as Parker has, with humility and faithfulness, and pockets full of gems.”
—Valarie Kaur, civil rights activist, lawyer, filmmaker, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project

“One of the wisest people on the planet has written one of the finest books on growing b/old gracefully. This warm and witty book will delight and inspire readers of all ages.”
—Richard Leider, bestselling author or coauthor of
The Power of Purpose , Repacking Your Bags , and Life Reimagined

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