How do we sit with suffering? A lyrical pondering on how things fall apart — and worlds open anew.
From our gatherings in Louisville to the ekphrastic poetry for Yom HaShoah, a wealth of reading and exploring this week.
Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering. But how do we turn the power of suffering toward new life? It depends on our willingness to exercise our hearts so that when suffering strikes, they are suppler and more able to break open to new life.
A story from Rumi's masterpiece Masnavi illuminates the paths we all travel from brokenness to healing, from spiritually feeling worthless and cut off to being wholehearted. In the wisdom of the saints, Omid Safi reveals the goal of the spiritual path: not reaching divinity, but achieving full humanity.
The spring festival of Nowruz and an invitation from the First Lady allow our columnist to see the White House as “the people’s house” and a place that honors the diversity — and promise — of America.
A potpourri of thinking on joy, letting suffering speak, writing poetry, and the wisdom of children — as curated by Trent Gilliss.
How do we reckon with horror and injustice in the wake of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh's killing by ISIS. Omid Safi on remembering and honoring the man, and not the horrible video effigy being shown over and over.
We rarely know the pain and suffering that envelops the people closest to us. In this loving tribute, the poetic structure of an Auden poem serves as a frame to remember a neighbor who loved dogs but couldn't hang onto life.
Oftentimes it's the hardships in life that are considered a test. But, perhaps, some of the deepest lessons of hardship are learned through all the good fortunes and blessings of our lives too.
A tribute to the children and adults who died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School honored with a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. A list we must return to and remember out of love and hope for a safer world.
Invoking the words of Heschel, a Muslim scholar hearkens back to the prophetic tradition and asks what it means to be morally responsible in a world of ISIS and American empire?
In a world of many distractions, the Buddhist sage says, it may be our own cravings that may be most deleterious to our well-being. Watch and listen.
Our executive editor's weekly missive, including a smart testimony on the value of work, a Mary Oliver poem on suffering and joy, a call for headlines that reflect the fullness of the world, and a stunning body of paintings from Rabindranath Tagore.
How does one have a more supple heart that's read to hold life's suffering and joy? Finding a way in through a Mary Oliver poem and some guiding words.
A vexing question receives a profound answer. And Parker Palmer asks: "What task is calling you — at home, at work, in the larger world — that you need to embrace even though it's impossible?"
When we live behind a mask, how do we connect and establish trust with one another? Parker Palmer on reclaiming our identity and integrity.
This week, excellent insights from Howard Thurman and the growing edge of the beginner's mind, a meditation on suffering, advice from Bertrand Russell, and a beautiful photoquote from Yiddish poet Celia Dropkin.
Bedridden with an incurable illness, writer Paul Martin on navigating paths of pain and difficulty, and the depth and mystery of joy.
The film Life of Pi is not just a "parable of the postmodern quest for 'spiritual fulfillment'" but a meditation on beauty and our own finitude.
An illustration of Xavier Le Pichon’s analogies between the “rigidity” and what he calls “ductility” of the earth, and human communities he's witnessed from India to France.
“The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary nor congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever. Nitrogen is nitrogen, it passes miraculously from the air into plants, from these into animals, and from animals into us; when its function in our body is exhausted, we eliminate it, but it still remains nitrogen, aseptic, innocent.”
—Primo Levi, The Periodic Table
The Holocaust represented a contradiction in perception: ordered, regimented evil and unrestrained, billowing pain. For decades, artists have sought to capture the ineffable destruction that befell the Jewish people.
An image of the Buddha is carved into a banyan tree at Wat Mahathat in Thailand. (photo: McKay Savage/Flickr, cc by 2.0)
The name Buddha means “awakened one.” This is the story of how a young man became the Buddha. As with all ancient tales, we can’t know what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken metaphorically. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m inspired by his story either way.
Photo by Aftab Uzzaman/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. Most of us remember that day and what we were doing around nine o’clock that morning. (I was at the veterinarian’s office; we had just gotten a puppy the Saturday before).
September 11, 2011 is a Sunday. For those of us who will be in church that morning — in the pulpit or the pew — there’s an expectation that something important must be said; that appropriate ritual solemnity must be observed; that meaning, in some form or fashion, must be made.