The Work of the People

MAR 02, 2015 - Visual Epistles

Into the Darkness

Sociologist and professor, Parker Palmer, shares the experience of literally “getting stuck” while repelling off of a cliff. The lesson he learned helped him to through a long period of depression and inability to write. Sometimes, when we cannot get out of a situation, “getting into it” is the best thing we can do.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Palmer starts by telling a story about the Outward Bound program that he participated in when he was in his forties. He said that he had to repel down a hundred foot cliff, describing it as making a “death defying descent down a very rugged rock wall.” When Palmer was midway down he “froze in fear” and when one of the instructors asked, “Is there anything wrong, Parker?” he responded, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Recount a moment of fear that seemed to paralyzed you? How did you overcome this situation?
  2. Palmer talks about the Outward Bound motto: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” He says these words made it past his mind and “made it into his heart.” What might this saying mean to you?
  3. Palmer recollects about the community of ten people at Outward Bound and their support. How can support help you to get into it and to deal with the darkness?
  4. Palmer shares that it took him seven years to write the book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, because of clinical depression, but he contributes it to this difficult experience at the Outward Bound program. He says, “Finding the light didn’t happen quickly or easily.” How can these experiences help you to find the light? How can we have patience with ourselves through times of darkness? 
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We believe there is an alternative narrative to the prevalent narrative of scarcity and fear. We believe God is moving and is behind an alternative narrative of abundance and freedom, a narrative in which fear gets defeated and love wins.

We believe God’s narrative requires we altǝr our perspective, that we step, in faith, into God’s upside down reality. In God’s reality we listen for, live and speak God’s upside down voice of faith, hope and love, not striving for ourselves but serving our neighbor. For all these reasons, this is Altǝr.

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