Sometimes I’ll read a book (or less often, see a movie, or hear a presentation) and long after I finish it, I’m unable to shake one line from it. Just one little line—a few words—that I know are important for me right now, even if I’m not sure exactly why, or how.
Six weeks ago I finally read a book I’ve been meaning to read for a decade or two: Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, which was absolutely fantastic. Waiting did have its benefits: I suspect I got more out of the book than I would have twenty years ago. But I also suspect this is a book that reveals something new to the reader with each fresh reading.
Parker Palmer’s words on true self and vocation are wonderfully rich, but there’s one line that stuck with me. It went something like, it’s the things we can’t do anything about that have the most opportunity to actually do something with us. The thought struck me as both fascinating and terrifying, and my own thoughts have kept circling back to Palmer’s words ever since I first read them.
Or at least, I think they were Palmer’s words. They certainly sound like him, but now I can’t find that line anywhere in the book. They certainly sound like him, but maybe he didn’t write them at all. Maybe someone else penned them. Maybe—as a friend says when she’s unable to track down her sources—an angel whispered them in my ear.
Many people choose “one word” every January for the year to come; others embrace a theme for each year. I had decided not to this year, yet my mind keeps returning to these words. Maybe I didn’t plan on choosing words for the year, but these words? They chose me.
(Palmer would love that, as he believes we don’t choose our vocations. Instead, our vocations choose us.)
I happened to be reading another another book this weekend, and it confirmed my suspicions about how the right words, much like the right books, find their way to us when we need them. It was Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs, and in it, she shares a little about a mantra in her family: Pay attention.
“When something keeps rising to the top in your life, pay attention to it. Even if it seems like nothing much at all. It may seem like just a little thing, but if it keeps surfacing, pay attention to it.”
This isn’t the first time a few words have stuck with me, or a theme has persisted to rise to the top. Now and always, I’m paying attention.
Have you chosen words or a theme for the year? Tell us in comments. We’d LOVE to hear about the instances when the right words have found you at the right time, and when a theme has kept rising to the top in your life.