“I’m using the word heart as they did in ancient times, when it didn’t merely mean the emotions, as it tends to mean today.
It meant that center in the human self where everything comes together—where will and intellect and values and feeling and intuition and vision all converge.
It meant the source of one’s integrity.”
-Parker J. Palmer
I was only recently introduced to the work of Parker Palmer through the above quote discovered in a book on leadership. It encapsulates so well my own understanding of the meaning of heart. When we can live and lead from this definition of heart, we are able to tap into “A Hidden Wholeness”. This is the title of one of Palmer’s many books, which he subtitles “The Journey toward an Undivided Life”. How often do we feel that our lives are divided, fragmented? Where we function as distracted, scattered pieces that have lost their center. Where we are called to endlessly give and give until there is nothing left. In this video Palmer talks of burnout and how it arises not only from failing to replenish the well from which we have drawn our giving, but also how we deplete ourselves when we feel forced into roles that are not aligned with our strengths, values and vision . We try to give what we never really had. How often do we find ourselves living like Mr. Duffy in James Joyce’s The Dubliners: “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” Whatever the roles that we fulfill in life, personal and professional, we would do well to discover and reveal the hidden wholeness that lies at our core.
Discovering this courageous, thoughtful, and compassionate thinker late in his life and in mine reminds me to keep searching for and discovering the inspirational and innovative individuals who populate this world of ours. We have the opportunity to endlessly enrich our lives and by extension enhance those of others.