Reflections and Opening Questions for the New Year

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 10:12 am

Reflections and Opening Questions for the New Year

The holiday season is in full swing and our wonderful staff will be continuing to produce podcasts and essays for you through it all. In this spirit, I’ll turn to what’s quickly becoming a classic essay by Krista…

Riding the slowly moving sidewalks. (Roman Lily / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“Why do I dislike Christmas now? Let me count the ways.”

Why doesn’t Krista “do” Christmas any longer? Listen along as you read her take on foregoing the Christmas game of obligatory gift-giving and, instead, focusing on the redemptive human need for one another.

Mural of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born over 800 years years ago in 1207. He is the best-selling poet in the United States.

“We do not begin as saints, not as already illuminated beings. We come, again and again, because we seek to become so.”

Last Thursday was the anniversary of the Rumi’s death. Omid Safi writes an ode to the great Sufi mystic in which he marvels at the enduring power of his wisdom and poetry to unify and ripen centuries after his death.

Stormtrooper and Princess Leia cosplayers pose in the street. (Piotr Mamnaimie / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

Speaking of modern-day mysticism… As excitement abounds for the latest Star Wars film, guest contributor Rahim Snow wonders about the hold these stories have on us. More than pop culture, these films and characters are part of our modern-day mythologies, reflecting the conflicts that we face every day and helping us to understand ourselves:

“The conflict in our lives reflects the war in our stars.”

Rahim submitted his essay unsolicited. You can too! Although we aren’t able to publish all of the thousands we receive, it’s an honor and privilege to read them all and bring the best to your fellow readers.ž

A man with his hands outstretched. (Will Foster / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“Paradox runs through the season of Advent like a shining thread, weaving together transcendence in imminence, power in vulnerability, kairos in chronos, the ultimate in the intimate. I find myself woven into this fabric even as my heart stretches wide to hold such mystery.”

Claire Hitchins pens a lovely reflection and offers up a comforting collection of homespun songs for the mysterious season of waiting. Makes for beautiful listening!

Afternoon sunlight shines on a crowd of people in Brooklyn, New York. (Jeffrey Shay / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“I had been saved, and so had the dog, because of the kindness of strangers, even in this city thought to be so heartless.”

Despite our culture of independence and individualism, columnist Jane Gross finds that selflessness still abounds around us — even in the stereotypically cold hearts of her fellow New Yorkers. After an unexpected fainting spell on a NYC street, she is picked up and heartened by the compassion she is shown by complete strangers. It does the heart good to read a story like this!

“We’re surrounded by greed, but we’ve seen great acts of generosity. We’re surrounded by violence, but we’ve seen people make peace.”

How can we stand and act in the tragic gap? Through the story of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914, Parker Palmer shares a ballad and some thoughts on holding despair and human possibility today.

(Malloreigh / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

There are many ways to end this week’s Letter from Loring Park, but Courtney Martin poses a question in her Friday column that I’d like to offer you to think about as 2016 rounds the corner:

“What’s the question you’re putting to bed and what’s the one that’s just being born within you at this transitional time of year?”

Have you got a wish list? Drop me a line at tgilliss@onbeing.org, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
May the wind always be at your back.
Trent

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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