A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

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In A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer reveals the same compassionate intelligence and informed heart that shaped his best-selling books Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach. Here he speaks to our yearning to live undivided lives—lives that are congruent with our inner truth—in a world filled with the forces of fragmentation.

Mapping an inner journey that we take in solitude and in the company of others, Palmer describes a form of community that fits the limits of our active lives. Defining a “circle of trust” as “a space between us that honors the soul,” he shows how people in settings ranging from friendship to organizational life can support each other on the journey toward living “divided no more.”

This paperback edition includes two new and useful features. Circles of Trust is a DVD containing interviews with Parker J. Palmer and footage from retreats he facilitated for the Center for Courage & Renewal (www.CourageRenewal.org). Bringing the Book to Life, by Caryl Hurtig Casbon and Sally Z. Hare, is a reader's and leader's guide to exploring the themes in A Hidden Wholeness. The DVD illuminates and illustrates the principles and practices behind circles of trust. The guide includes questions that connect the DVD to the book, offering "a conversation with the author" as well as an engagement with the text. Together, these features give readers new ways to internalize the themes of A Hidden Wholeness and share with others this approach to sustaining identity and integrity in all the venues of our lives.

Inspired by Palmer’s writing and speaking—and challenged by the conditions of twenty-first century life—people across the country, from many walks of life, have been coming together in circles of trust to reclaim their integrity and help foster wholeness in their workplaces and their world.

For over a decade, the principles and practices in this book have been proven on the ground—by parents and educators, clergy and politicians, community organizers and corporate executives, physicians and attorneys, and many others who seek to rejoin soul and role in their private and public lives.

A Hidden Wholeness weaves together four themes that its author has pursued for forty years: the shape of an integral life, the meaning of community, teaching and learning for transformation, and nonviolent social change. The hundreds of thousands of people who know Parker Palmer’s books will be glad to find the journey continued

Customer Reviews:

  • A book for everyman
    By everyman I mean, of course, men and women, young and old, retired and working, republicans and democrats, believers and non-believers. This is a book I wish I'd found years ago (before it was written)!

    Almost everyone lives the divided life. (I suspect the Dalai Lama does not). As Palmer notes, sometimes we have to -- this is a choice we sometimes must choose to make. One of the reasons I love this book so is that Palmer does not have rigid judgmental expectations of us (we probably are harsh enough on ourselves). He offers guidelines and explanations for the human condition, and some help on getting through.

    Parker Palmer takes a long time Quaker practice -- the Clearness Committee - and uses it to provide for everyone a Circle of Trust. This mutual support network is unusual -- it isn't an advisory committee but more support for listening to that inner voice which we may joke about, but which exists (you know, the one you should have listened to, that nagging feeling, that annoying little warning sign).

    One thing that makes us crazy is the denial of that inner voice, our true self, the divided side of self that knows the questionable aspects of our work life, the one we hush up so we can get by and make a living. This isn't just a teacher's issue or a spiritual issue. For some it may be a spiritual divide; for others, a more humanistic one. In any case, we become emotionally, mentally and otherwise unbalanced if our day to day movements and choices feel separate from -- or in conflict with -- our beliefs and values, and yet we deny that they are so.

    We do not allow ourselves to hear that inner voice, afraid of the changes we might have to make. We smush it down, despite knowing intellectually that anything you smush down in one area pops up in another. This book offers recognition of this conflict we are in, and gives us ways we can listen without, necessarily, having to make changes that will make us walk out from or get fired from our daily bread earning jobs.

    This is one to have, to give, to read and reread, to keep by the bedside or take on business trips.
    ...more info
  • Circles of Trust
    For most of our lives we have talked about, experimented with, and attempted many forms of spiritual community, often with disappointing results. Not until we met Parker Palmer did we find and learn reliable ways to not only explore our inner lives, but to witness and discover the 'hidden wholeness,' not only in ourselves, but in others, in cirlces of trust. We have been priviiledged to learn this way of living and being in community through working with Parker and other facilitators through the Center for Teacher Formation over the last ten years. Now Parker, in HIDDEN WHOLENESS, shares his legacy, the 'live encounter' thousands of people have experienced through a retreat process he began. Now, the reader can find, in clear, simple language, a description of these practices, and begin to consider a way of being with others that honors the soul and supports us in living the undivided life we all deeply yearn for.

    Caryl & Jay Casbon
    Bend, Oregon...more info
  • Perfect Balance
    Mr Palmer has distilled his life experience for us through his authentic and well written book. If know you are on a journey go no farther until you have read this book for its practical and uplifting content.
    ...more info
  • Wholeness for a healthy organization
    I was inspired to write page after page in my personal journal after reading the first few chapters. This book was used as the foundation for facilitator training for a week long retreat for The Center for Formation in Higher Education. I especially appreciate the use of metaphor to illustrate the many paradoxes in our lives as we call upon the shy inner teacher. The explanations and examples are clear. ...more info
  • Livegiving!
    The guiding image of this book is a rope tied from a house to the barn, which helps the farmer back home in case of a blizzard. The book does exactly that. It helped me find my true self in the midst of a storm....more info
  • Worthy of at least ten stars * * * * * * * * * * !
    Parker Palmer has gifted us all with his revealing reflections and insights about living an undivided life. He writes about the conflict that we experience when our professional life and our inner beliefs are not aligned.
    "A Hidden Wholeness" addressed many questions for me including:
    What happens when the person that I have become, shaped by my work experiences, faces decisions that have to be made... decisions that I know will feel 'bad' or 'wrong' because they threaten my integrity?
    What happens when I find myself part of an organization or profession that has evolved and changed in ways that are troubling?
    What happens when I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place and can't see clearly where to go?
    What happens when advice from others and self-help books are of little or no value?
    Palmer shows how we can support one another in today's busy and often impersonal world by creating a unique and very special kind of community. The ideas presented in this book are well grounded and applicable to all.
    This is an important book for all individuals who are concerned about or troubled by the divisions that exist in the lives we lead. Spending a few quiet hours with Parker Palmer's new book, "A Hidden Wholeness", may just change your mind about what is possible... and this book is one that you will want to pass on and share!
    ...more info
  • Another great book by Parker J. Palmer
    I ordered it for the purpose of a daily devotional. I am a seminary student and have read other things from Palmer. He does a great job of introducing us to an undivided life with integrity....more info


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