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Answer the attached questionBoth Silva and Palmer emphasize the importance of learning to ask key questions:
· “What creates the thirst for knowledge? What do we wish to learn? Who do we wish to be?” (Silva)
· “What is my true life? What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to be?” (Palmer)
       What are your key questions at this point in your life? 
Respond to this question with a one-paragraph answer of each article that includes a strong thesis sentence and a concluding sentence. One bage1

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

—William Stafford, “ASK ME”1

“Ask me whether what I have done is my life.” For some, those
words will be nonsense, nothing more than a poet’s loose way

Listening to Life

ƒ

Palmer, Parker J.. Let Your Life Speak : Listening for the Voice of Vocation, John Wiley & Sons,
Incorporated, 1999. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/stkate-ebooks/detail.action?docID=700256.
Created from stkate-ebooks on 2018-08-21 13:12:55.

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with language and logic. Of course what I have done is my
life! To what am I supposed to compare it?

But for others, and I am one, the poet’s words will be pre-
cise, piercing, and disquieting. They remind me of moments
when it is clear—if I have eyes to see—that the life I am living
is not the same as the life that wants to live in me. In those
moments I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life
hidden like the river beneath the ice. And in the spirit of
the poet, I wonder: What am I meant to do? Who am I meant
to be?

I was in my early thirties when I began, literally, to wake
up to questions about my vocation. By all appearances, things
were going well, but the soul does not put much stock in
appearances. Seeking a path more purposeful than accumu-
lating wealth, holding power, winning at competition, or
securing a career, I had started to understand that it is indeed
possible to live a life other than one’s own. Fearful that I was
doing just that—but uncertain about the deeper, truer life I
sensed hidden inside me, uncertain whether it was real or
trustworthy or within reach—I would snap awake in the mid-
dle of the night and stare for long hours at the ceiling.

Then I ran across the old Quaker saying, “Let your life
speak.” I found those words encouraging, and I thought I
understood what they meant: “Let the highest truths and val-
ues guide you. Live up to those demanding standards in every-
thing you do.” Because I had heroes at the time who seemed
to be doing exactly that, this exhortation had incarnate mean-

2 LE T YO U R LI F E SP E A K

Palmer, Parker J.. Let Your Life Speak : Listening for the Voice of Vocation, John Wiley & Sons,
Incorporated, 1999. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/stkate-ebooks/detail.action?docID=700256.
Created from stkate-ebooks on 2018-08-21 13:12:55.

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99Opening Celebration
September 8, 2010

Lessons in the Liberal Arts

By Dr. Alan J. Silva

The title of my talk is “Lessons in the Liberal Arts.” I’ll begin with a few questions: What is the source of

inquiry? What creates the thirst for knowledge? What do we wish to learn? Who do we wish to be?

As we enter into the Year of the Liberal Arts, these are the kinds of questions we need to be asking and

thinking about. I know for my part that I have been grappling with them for a long time, perhaps my

whole life. And this is how I want to talk about the liberal arts today with all of you, as a journey of

inquiry and self-examination that began sometime in my childhood and that has grown and expanded

over the course of my life. I want to invite you to join me on this journey as I talk about the intellectual

labor of the liberal arts and provide you with four lessons to illustrate.

To do this, I need to turn to my parents, two people who never went to college. My parents would have

liked to have gone, but their families didn’t have the money to send them, and they had too many

demands placed upon them—my mother who was expected to work in her older sister’s store and my

father who was expected to work on his family’s dairy farm.

If you are a student sitting here today, you might be thinking of the sacrifices your parents made to help

you get to this place or if you are a student-parent, you might be thinking of the sacrifice your family is

making right now to help you realize your dreams.

Let’s begin these “Lessons in the Liberal Arts.”

Lesson #1. My mother has been a catechism teacher for 58 years. For those who are not Catholic,

catechism is the religious instruction that young people receive, usually up through about the 8​th​ grade,
from either members of the clergy or lay teachers.

Before I went to school, I would sometimes go with my mother to Monday afternoon catechism and sit

quietly at the side table, hands folded, listening to my mother’s recitation of the lessons from the

Baltimore catechism. I must confess that I cannot recall many of the specifics of those lessons so many

years later, but I can remember how my mother taught her 8 and 9 year old students how to think of

self, of others, of God. It was in this process of “how to discern” that I believe initiated my desire​ ​for
self-examination.

One of my mother’s favorite words from those catechism days is “conscience.” When I would

sometimes ask her if I could do something, knowing full well that I could not or should not, my mother

would nearly always say, “Alan, what does your conscience tell you?”

Just a few weeks ago, I went back to the Baltimore (I have a copy in my office) to find the part about

“conscience.” And there in Lesson 32, item number 426 (for those who are counting) is the statement

about conscience, tied explicitly to confession:

“Before entering the confe

  
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