In an increasingly frenetic world, emptying the mind in intentional silence can feel impossible. By returning to the Quaker tradition, one mother rediscovers the solace of communal stillness and embracing the busyness of her thoughts.
Like Nature herself, our untamed “inscape” may be fearsome and sublime, but it is also playful. A writer experiences the world, vivid and vibrant — and laced with a sacred vitality.
For the Jewish High Holy Days, two poems by Esther Cohen paired with photography from Matthew Septimus. They offer words that sound like music, and postcards that become visual prayers and emblems of hope.
For this Tuesday morning, a poem from Dena Simmons that might make you see things differently on your commute to work.
The task of the healthy is to be willing to see the same wholeness in those who aren't, to help them understand that they are needed and wanted and complete. A documentary film helps one man ponder how Jesus might frame our understanding of our potential role in modern-day healing.
It is enough to be quiet and still. It’s probably best to be in nature, which is God’s untouched world, but if you can’t get there, just take time to find silence wherever you are. A meditation on stillness at Gethsemani, the abbey of Thomas Merton.
A viral post showing images inside the sacred site in Mecca inspired awe and adoration from Muslims around the world, and controversy. But Omid Safi finds power in the revelation of the center, the heart of the Ka'ba, and an opportunity to turn inward to the beloved.
"Ritual does for behavior what poetry does for words." When the hope of youthful enthusiasm turns grim and gray and the spiritual challenge of uncertainty beckons, a rabbi finds hope in ritual as poetry in action, recognizing the spirituality in the routine, recapturing the sacred in the mundane, and rediscovering beauty in the ordinary.
In silence, there is a depth of communion that trumps what we can achieve with words. In laughter, there is a depth of communion that trumps what we can achieve with solemnity. Parker Palmer on shadow and quiet.
A meditative petition to sit in stillness, to choose trust over doubt and forgiveness over stubbornness when the difficulties in life take hold.
Mary Oliver's poems often feel like prayers as much as poems. In her own voice, she recites one of our favorites that feels like an incantation.
How can we recover virtue and integrity in a world of insult and violence? And how do we respond? A commentary from a man searching for models of illumination and compassion who bring light into the world — and finding them in Dr. Du Bois and the Prophet Muhammad.
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.
In response to Duke University's decision to not allow the Muslim call to prayer from the chapel, Omid Safi offers an open hand invitation to see a Duke (and an America) that has room for all of us.
Thomas Merton is one of those monastics who continues to inspire so many. Here, the Jesuit Jim Martin reads one of his favorite passages from his book, Thoughts in Solitude.
"People prefer winners and losers. Maccabees rising against Greeks." The third photo-poem in our series from Matthew Septimus and Esther Cohen on the stories of success we tell each other.
A prayer for the poet who doesn't pray. The second in an eight-part series from a photographer and a poet exploring the sacred in the mundane.
A daughter reflects on her ailing father and her right to petition God to deliver a World Series victory for their team.
Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal offers a rare glimpse into the life of a brilliant writer, colored by doubt and uncertainty, preoccupied with both magnificent grace and the mundane absurdity of everyday life.
With all the focus on fasting, a Muslim man from Atlanta tells us that the sustenance of Islam's holiest month lies in focusing on letting God in.
A daughter reflects on the quiet, unassuming ways of her father — and how being "rooted in the physical" helps her and her son connect without the use of words or a faith in something larger than what's in front of them.
In our increasingly secular lives, we find ways to get at a purer distillation of who we are at the broken center of ourselves. A meditation on paying attention and finding prayer in quiet places and through unlikely sources.
From Kabbalah to comfort, curiosity to a prayer from the Prophet Muhammad. Our roundup of ideas and stories at On Being this week.
The word "selah" in the biblical Psalms helps one woman reflect and listen to the song before her — whether in verse or in place.
The documentary Rites of Passage by Jeff Roy follows a 42-year-old practicing Muslim and Indian transgender to Bangkok for gender reassignment surgery and puts her Islamic faith and ethnic identity at the center of the journey.
by Emily Frost, guest contributor
When Jeff Roy first met Maya Jafer in Los Angeles, he had prepared a long list of questions. But he barely got in one; Jafer had finally found someone with whom she could share her story.
Ms. Jafer, a 42-year-old transgender woman and a practicing Muslim from India, spent the next hours detailing a cultural and religious background that never accepted her and describes a personal journey full of upheaval. Mr. Roy, who had never made a film, decided Jafer’s story needed to be told.