I stopped to see a friend the other day and he gave me a book, Let Your Life Speak by insightful Quaker Parker Palmer. This morning I read something that really struck me. “We have a strange conceit in our culture that simply because we have said something, we understood what it meant. But often we do not.” He said that often we speak from a deeper place than intellect or ego, words that “arise when the inner teacher feels safe enough to tell its truth.” I think he is suggesting that it is not unusual for us to speak of greater values than we ourselves are able to live out.
When I taught parenting at the county jail, there was an amazing amount of wisdom that came from the inmates. Yet here they were in jail for failing to live out their values in one way or another. I could have judged them, but I never thought of them as hypocrites. I figured they were showing me the persons they aspired to be. In fact, I felt privileged to be shown a window to their true identities. If they had failed at anything, it was failure to see their own goodness.
I don’t know what exactly the inmates learned about parenting from me, but I always believed that it was a good thing to see a light in them. In just seeing it, it seemed to get brighter.