This past week has been one of extreme darkness and anxiety. But how do we, individually and collectively, think through and deal with these moments of our lives? A survey of writers on finding our way and building the beloved community we aspire to.
Have our funeral rituals disengaged us from the embodied act of physically burying the dead? A grandson on the our discomfort about death — and we can reconnect with the lives we lost.
A brother contemplates the loss of his sister to cancer, the place where she searched for home, and the stories that rise up within him.
The power of song on the radio connects three worlds to one woman, ushering her into the eternal present by conjuring up memories of the past.
Our executive editor rounds up things seen and unseen — from poetry and trees to anger and rhythm.
During the High Holy Days, a daughter remembers her father and the blessing he was as he aged — with memory and a poem.
A mix of unexpected joy from a prairie trombone and a Finnish folk band playing AC/DC paired with a sage Nobel Prize-winning Bengali, a nonagenarian from Boston, and columnists Parker and Courtney. Quite swath of things to think about and carry into the week.
Some good humor on forgetfulness and poignant verse from the poet Billy Collins to sweeten the swallow.
Musing on the hidden lives and legacies of objects and how "heaven is being a memory to others," our Twitter recap of a spacious conversation between philosopher-artist Dario Robleto and Krista Tippett.
A poem about friendship and intimacy, waiting and being present in the moment that is heartbreaking and heartening in its song.
Last fall the idea to visit the family graveyard came to mind for the first time in ages. Día de Los Muertos seemed like the perfect excuse to make the journey. I allowed life and distance to keep me away, however, and I never went.
I am not Latina, but I did develop a strong appreciation for Mexican culture while studying midwifery on the Texas/Mexico border. When I moved home to Georgia, I kept a piece of Mexico in my heart. Since the first idea to celebrate my ancestors Mexican-style entered my mind last year, the urge had only grown stronger. So as November approached this year, I resolved to do it. I invited my two sisters. One said she’d bake a casserole and we planned to picnic at the cemetery. On October 31st, they both cancelled on me. I was determined, however, and went anyway.
A song of childhood torture from the back of the family station wagon becomes one of solitude during commutes and nighttime lullabies.
Photo by Alicia Reiner/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
I am from fire.
I’m from the fire my father had for life and the fire my mother had for living. His was fueled by parties, drugs, wit, and self-involvement, hers by longing, anger, spite, and sweat. He was vivid; he hit her skin like sunshine and she finally felt warmth from an external source. She smoldered. He was curious to know how her sweat turned to the steam that hovered over her skin. What was her heat source? How could someone burn so hot without catching fire?
(photo: Leandro Pérez/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
I never used to go anywhere without my cell phone. It was not only a means of communication, but my sole timepiece, and not knowing the time made me crazy.
That all changed one afternoon when my oldest son was two years old. After four years of living in the Southwest and its two seasons of hot and hotter, we moved to the upper Midwest. I couldn’t wait to experience the change in seasons, so one crisp October day I packed up my son and a picnic lunch and headed to a nearby state park to see some fall colors.
When we arrived, I unfastened the buckles of his car seat, retrieved our lunch, and instinctively reached for my cell phone. Then I paused.
This story has us all mystified. It resulted in this "thought experiment" among our staff, which led to wildly varying interpretations. Take a listen and tell us what you think.
In the late 1980’s, an unlikely series of events carried me to Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador to meet high-ranking political figures and rebel leaders. But, it was an unexpected encounter with an unknown woman in Managua during La Gritería that made the trip so memorable and changed the way I see the Advent season forever.
An unexpected package. A book. A gift. Days with My Father.
In response to Speaking of Faith’s show about the brutality of regimes around the world and the question of the people who disappear — and their children — I thought I would share with you a scene from my childhood in Portugal during the country’s fascist regime that lasted for almost 40 years and ended in 1974.
I wake up in the middle of the night, as I often do, and walk slowly down the steps of the long staircase. I am eight years old. I come to join my father, who sits in his office listening to a small voice coming from a small radio. The sound is muffled; the words sound detached. I do not understand what it says.
He smiles at the sight of my face peering through the crack of the door.
“So, you’re up,” he says.
Our guest rediscovers Studs' magic in his interview — discussing imaginative educators defying the odds.
"I am building my capacity for love now, so it can sustain me later." —Alanna Shaikh, on Alzheimer's lessons and the love of her father.
The confluence of the rambunctious American ritual of Halloween with the somber and sobering feast days of All Saints and All Souls that follow on its heels has always been confusing to me — never more so than when I was a child. Halloween ranked second to Christmas for the near-hysteria of our anticipation.
The thrill of dressing up to be something scary was delicious, especially so because, as the smallest and youngest member of my large Catholic family, I was much more experienced at being scared than being scary. Halloween allowed me to become the monster. This, no doubt, is at the heart of its hold over us. We’re able to put on the clothing of that which frightens us: darkness and death itself.
Krista acknowledges the inspiration for this show.
A moving visual reflection on memory and relationships, absence and loss, and on the frail, tender love between family members.
What is it about Bible stories? For me they can be like catchy music; I’ll get one stuck in my head and then, while I wait for the bus or cut up vegetables or fold laundry, the story will run on repeat, offering its melodies, harmonies, dissonances. These ancient stories — so full of existential drama — can become obsessions.
I’ve been thinking constantly for the past year or so about the Book of Ruth. (Read the whole book yourself here.) Naomi, her husband and sons all dead, is in mourning. She’s planning to move home to Bethlehem. She tells her newly widowed daughters-in-law to go back to their families; they can remarry in their native towns. But Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, insists on moving with Naomi back to Judah. We don’t know exactly why.