Instead of denying frightening realities, sometimes the best path forward is a courageous acknowledgement of the truth.
From soured relationships to dead bugs, it’s a given: life can get disgusting. But sometimes we can step back and recognize that we’re far from powerless in the face of things we fear.
How can we be more present to daily joys? What does it look like to engage with each other in our fullest capacity? Questions and meditations on community and identity from voices on our radar.
Unwavering gratitude can be an intimidating ideal. Sharon Salzberg examines gentle attention to the positive as a generous alternative to our negativity bias.
One of the hibakusha, the survivors of Hiroshima, reflects on life after the bombing in frank words: to honor the lives destroyed, and hope that her experience with death imparts a lesson about the preciousness of life.
Elie Wiesel, the beloved writer known for his profound memoir of the Holocaust, Night, speaks of the power of prayer and forgiveness in the wake of profound suffering.
Unitarian-Universalist law enforcement chaplain Kate Braestrup tells the story of a police woman who embodies the both/and of love and new life, and crime and death.
Loss and trauma can cast us into uncertainty. Parker Palmer finds solace in the words of William Stafford, and wonders if being lost is the first step on a path to something better.
Guided by Naomi Shihab Nye’s beloved poem “Kindness,” Parker Palmer reflects on our capacity to emerge from the depth of suffering, into the fullness of compassion.
Collected counsel on forging meaning and joy from our suffering, and finding calm in times of tension.
“Sometimes the pain of the world seems incomprehensible. And if there’s anything that balances it, it’s wonder at the world, the amazingness of people.” Mindfulness meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein gives counsel on finding joy and spiritual practice embedded in the rhythms of everyday life.
Walk straight into your not-knowing. Exercise your heart. Live as variously as possible. In this season of graduations, Parker Palmer offers six suggestions for traversing the savage and beautiful terrain of life.
After a teacher stays on in Poland after a five-day bearing witness retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau, she offers a peripatetic meditation on beauty, suffering, and our capacity to comprehend what is incomprehensible.
The daughter of refugees pens an open letter to her mother. She reflects on the inheritance of suffering, offering this ode to the resilience of the human spirit and gratitude for the opportunity to flourish.
Our corrective actions can have radiating effects, placing a burden on those who don’t deserve it. A moving revelation of the extended trauma of mass incarceration — farther reaching than we might imagine.
Homelessness is present on the streets of Denver each day. So are stories of resilience, compassion, and dignity even through life’s most difficult trials. A live-in volunteer at a Catholic Worker house realizes that we find home in those with whom we journey through our toughest moments.
Working through discomfort doesn’t mean denying our suffering. Instead, Sharon Salzberg suggests a better way to move forward: allowing ourselves to feel pain without judgment, and accepting the validity of our own emotions.
To love life in its fullness is the key to wise living. Parker Palmer with a poem on transforming suffering and restoring life.
When we strip away various veneers, what are we left with? Sharon Salzberg on the practice of letting go of denial and the uncomfortability of avoidance.
Becoming fixated on a problem at the office or an injustice to others can often lead to intense anger. But, how do we avoid the narrowness of this emotion and not let it consume us?
There’s much confusion between sympathy and empathy. Our columnist tells the story of a wise elder whose suffering led her to become a model for how to have a meaningful life.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Parker Palmer highlights the importance of “wounded healers” and what we can do to let heartbreak open ourselves to suffering and the kindness necessary for social change.
What would it take for us to look under the skin of happiness and make haste to being whole? Rather than looking to the self-help aisle, where might we look?
What is the opposite of dukkha? Total rightness? Sharon Salzberg on the contorted postures we hold and the pain that arises out of the ungovernable nature of events in our lives.
A classic love song takes on new meaning in the light of darkness. A war correspondent hears Ry Cooder’s version of “Dark End of the Street” as an ode to suffering and the light that shines on.
To be confronted with a serious illness is to be confronted with a fear of death for most of us. How do we balance hope with realism? And how do we age with grace? Drawing on Atul Gawande’s book, Mary Jo Bennett highlights some ways our culture is evolving in its relationship with death.
Suffering can be a backstop for unexpected joy. A lyrical “Rumi”ination on shadow, gratitude, and the light of the stranger.
Forgiveness is not easily granted. But, summoning the deepest compassion for ourselves and others may allow both parties to move on without bitterness. Through the bittersweet story of her friend, Sharon Salzberg imparts a lesson about the shifting course of relationships and a path to peace.
We spill something on ourselves, and then we postpone the inevitable: the cleaning. We often do the same thing with the pain and anger we inevitably experience. Omid and Rumi have something to say about stain-treating our hearts.
With the near-constant news of extra-judicial police killings and mass shootings, it would be easy to live in a constant state of fear. Faced with his own fragile mortality, a Buddhist contemplates our collective fear and grief. For him, meditation is not about relaxation but about awakening to life — in its wonder and in its sorrow.
A Southern woman’s searching lament on the hot, boiling silence of Southern grief after the shootings in Charleston — and the inheritance of sorrow.
Freedom rings this Independence Day with a panoply of sounds and sights to remind us of our burgeoning world!
Beginning with a quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan, an exploration and a grappling with suffering, parenting, and the nature of love.
So often in the West we believe that the most genius works of art are created with suffering and torment. But, the Dalai Lama might say happiness is the foundation of great creativity of all kinds.
A powerful lesson on the allure of the ego and the mystery of love expressed through the mythology of the Lord of the Rings and the poetry of Rumi.
A bevy of useful, interesting things to chew on and contemplate. Sure to make your mind sing!
Zayn Malik’s announcement crushed millions of fans’ hearts, including that of our columnist Omid Safi. Despite the comforting scenario painted by Stephen Hawking, Omid prefers this one universe, this one place we call home.
Everyone suffers, silently or obviously, one way or the other. Once you see that connection, tenderness follows. A cancer survivor’s meditation on gratitude and the marvel that is being alive.
To truly meet each other “that mysterious junction of suffering and love could well be the most truthful and potent place.”
Metaphors of light and reflection abound. But what about the metaphors of mirror and mirroring. Omid Safi holds that image with palms up and open.
We are inextricably entwined with each other. Omid Safi sees the pain and suffering of two tragedies — in Nepal and in Baltimore — and appeals to all of us to embody the ethics of a natural tragedy, reaching out in compassion, when we’re faced with man-made destruction and systemic corruption.
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.