This time of year can be both joyful and heartbreaking for parents of young men and women who are off to begin building a new life. A friend of mine is experiencing the empty nest for the first time this year and it’s been hard.
Time for a gift of a book that’s among my favorites, “Let Your Life Speak,” by Parker Palmer. I used the book as a text some years ago when teaching a class on Leadership in Faith Communities and have referred to it many times since. One of my favorite insights is this: “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” Can’t think of a better piece of advice to give a young person as they set off to find their way.
In my own life, too, Palmer’s instincts have often rung true. He advises us that we will become what God intends “not by trying to fill the potholes in our souls but by knowing them so well that we can avoid falling into them.” The older I get, the more I have made friends with the truth that the things I am bad at are things I was just not meant to worry too much about. This allows me to make far better use of my time on the real gifts I have.
This week, I invite you to take the time to listen to your life a bit more closely. Is there a door that may have slammed in your face? Palmer advises us to turn our backs to that door and look instead at the rest of the world in front of us. Good advice.