This post is different than those I normally share, but I felt this resource was important. Thanks to one of my former students who continues to teach me new things, I discovered Parker Palmer’s work on How to Deal with Broken-Heartedness (published by the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis).
The following video provides helpful information for understanding one of the challenges many of us are facing in these times. Palmer discusses life in the “tragic gap” between the world as it is now and the world that we know could be because we’ve seen glimpses of it. How does one live in a world of suffering without selling out or becoming immobilized by despair? In Palmer’s language, if we aren’t able to balance the tension of walking and working in the tragic gap, we may flip out on one side or the other, to “corrosive cynicism” or “irrelevant idealism.”
He argues that the standard we should apply to measure our successes in life is not whether we’ve been effective or not in our efforts to make a difference. Instead, we should measure our faithfulness “to our gifts, to our perception of needs in the world, and to those moments when our gifts intercept with those needs in a way where we can make meaningful service.”
“Standing in the tragic gap is going to break our hearts in one of two ways.” Our hearts can shatter into a million pieces, or they can break open giving us greater capacity to hold the world’s pain or joy. Palmer briefly describes the strategies he uses to stay the course. I hope you find his ideas thought-provoking and valuable.