December’s Book To Live By

As he approached his 80th birthday, Parker Palmer had a startling revelation: He liked being old.

A decade earlier he had realized “The Dylan Thomas poem I loved when I was young — ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ — no longer speaks to me.”

Instead of fighting aging, he sought to collaborate with it. Writing was a vehicle for doing that, and it allowed him to share the view with others along the path.

For this month’s podcast, it was my honor to speak with Parker, the renowned teacher, writer, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. And I am delighted to announce that our December Book To Live By is:

On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old by Parker J. Palmer


In this, his 10th book, Parker celebrates the perspectives and insights he has gained from the vantage point of aging. He writes as he lives — with humor, curiosity, compassion, and a willingness to embrace the challenges and paradoxes of life.

With his extraordinary storytelling skills, he shows us what it is like to age gracefully. “[I]t is because of the diminishments of age, not in spite of them,” he writes, “that I often find myself in awe as I stand on the brink of everything.”

Parker tells us that “Old is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time of life to take bigger risks,” adding a key ingredient: “on behalf of the common good.” His passion for justice and peace for all always shines through.

The book is filled with messages honoring spirit, sharing hope, and finding courage in an often broken, dysfunctional world.

He extols the virtues of intergenerational relationships and illustrates the essence of the “true self.” He shares his experiences as a community organizer and tells of his deep and lasting spiritual fellowship with Thomas Merton.

In the final chapter, he open-heartedly approaches the brink with us, reflecting on how to face death by being more fully present in life.

As a bonus, Carrie Newcomer, the singer-songwriter-poet-essayist and long-time friend and partner to Parker, has written three songs based on themes in the book. They are available for free at

In this season of giving, On the Brink of Everything is a delightful and generous gift to us all.

Wishing you peace and joy over the holidays and throughout the new year,

Debbie Signature