By Heather McRae-Woolf October 03, 2015

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.

By Trent Gilliss September 08, 2015

We're officially back into the full swing of production! Amidst the flurry of exciting work, we're grateful for the chance to reflect on the centering power of daily ritual, facing mortality with hope, and defining our lives by the quality of our actions.

By Courtney E. Martin September 04, 2015

The frenetic pace of life can be overwhelming, making ritual even more necessary. But it doesn't have to be religious, or even spiritual in nature. Daily tasks can ground and center us, clearing our minds and helping us focus on the profundity in the seemingly mundane of this world.

By Trent Gilliss August 11, 2015

In this Letter from Loring Park, our executive editor lists three compelling reads under five minutes and some of our most popular columns. Enjoy the journey.

By Courtney E. Martin August 07, 2015

Rituals provide structure for the full spectrum of our emotional lives - but for those who don't identify with an organized religion, how are rituals developed? Courtney Martin ponders the "muddy, sacred" experience of creating rituals.

By Michael Steinberg July 21, 2015

At a nondescript ranch house in upstate New York, devotees gather for a practice both incalculably ancient and radically fresh — and in the process, connect with a larger story of the way things have always been: needs and hopes, dangers and joys, smoke and fire. A vivid, rich portrait of Hindu ritual in modern times.

By Rachel Meyer July 04, 2015

A longtime yogi sees fatherhood through the lens of the complementary balance of effort and ease, strength and softness.

By Dennis S. Ross May 02, 2015

"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.

By Trent Gilliss January 26, 2015

Mary Oliver with some 140-character gems teams up with guidelines on designing ritual for the "Nones" and an essay on the distance to suffering. Also, sharing some quotations from our new iPad app and a humanizing speech from MLK.

By Courtney E. Martin January 23, 2015

In a day where more and more wedding ceremonies are not presided over by an official religious figure, there's much to figure out when it comes to designing a ritual. Some practices to consider for modern nuptials.

By Omid Safi January 02, 2015

Tonight, all around the world, many Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad with festive decorations, devotional songs, and sweet candies. Omid Safi explains the annual ritual in more detail and the debate among Muslims about celebrating it.

By Caroline Oakes December 23, 2014

Through learning about Advent’s ancient connection to the Winter Solstice, the author rediscovers the "silky silence" of December’s darkness and the "nascent light" inside each one of us.

By Joseph Paillé December 07, 2014

In a culture of curated sharing, the intimacy of human touch can be daunting — even for a pastor. An essay on how the practice of laying on of hands is a quiet and necessary rite that ought to become part of our story again.

By Courtney E. Martin November 21, 2014

Atul Gawande's new book on the aging and the dying process inspires this column on turning bearing witness to our own instincts and doing things a different way.

By Courtney E. Martin October 03, 2014

Sometimes the most sacred experiences happen in the most mundane of places: in a big box store, after your spouse empties the litter box, or during an encounter with a taxi driver.

By Anita Getzler September 28, 2014

During the High Holy Days, a daughter remembers her father and the blessing he was as he aged — with memory and a poem.

By Trent Gilliss August 18, 2014

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.

By Courtney E. Martin August 08, 2014

In a culture with too few rituals, what role does drink play in the contemporary rituals of our times? Courtney Martin on memory, communal moments, and the potential for a true suspension of self.

By Monisha Bajaj December 23, 2013

How does a child of Indian immigrants — and a new mother — who isn't Christian celebrate the Christmas season in the U.S.? By taking it in and making it her own tradition.

November 12, 2012

The Chief Rabbi of the UK says that the plasticity of our brains should lead us into a whole new study about "deep practice" and developing attributes such as gratitude in our daily rituals.

June 25, 2012

How do we respect the depth of a Christian snake handler's faith — and talk about it without caricaturing or lauding his life?

June 18, 2012

Some beautiful photos of Pagans and others celebrating summer solstice around the world. Who wants to jump the fire with us?

May 22, 2012

The same evening that 40,000 Orthodox Jews gathered for a rally to consider the dangers of the Internet (and its responsible use), an email from a local conservative synagogue arrived in my inbox to remind me of a ritual for observant Jews to count the Omer.

April 06, 2012

Maundy Thursday in HyerabadA Christian worshipper at the St. Alphonsus Church in Hyderabad during a Maundy Thursday service. (Photo by Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

February 22, 2012

Contemplating“Contemplation” (photo: Kasia/Flickr cc by-nc-sa 2.0)

Ash Wednesday is today, inaugurating this year’s season of Lent. Cultural customs dictate “giving something up” for Lent. Without any meaningful or theological reflection, it becomes “giving up for the sake of giving up,” as though the mere act is enough. Is there more to it than just giving us something to talk about and a way to feel good about ourselves?