The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring

by Parker J. Palmer. Jossey-Bass, 1999.

Parker Palmer argues that we can embrace the monastic virtues of silence, solitude, contemplation, and centeredness without becoming full-time contemplatives. This is good news for Christians who lead hectic lives! Palmer writes of his own spiritual journey and dispels myths about contemplation and action. For example, he writes that while contemplation may lead to bliss, one also experiences pain along the way. He further argues that solitude and community are not mutually exclusive. He relates stories from various traditions, including Taoism, Christianity, and Hasidic Judaism. The author encourages us to examine Biblical examples of contemplation (Jesus’ temptation in the desert) and action (the feeding of the five thousand). This resource offers a powerful approach to help church volunteers turn contemplation into action.