From the dreary lyrics of “Eleanor Rigby” to Lennon’s infamous remarks on Christianity, The Beatles seemed to embody a godless skepticism about the world. But was their outlook really so bleak? Kenneth Womack on the deeper message at the heart of their music: a life-affirming, transcendent sense of communal good.
A poetic reminder for writers: that the simplest words can be the most powerful.
A woman finds the gift of stories to ground us and give shape to our suffering — by teaching creative writing to in-patient adolescents on the psychiatry floor of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Sometimes we need to trick our hearts to make great art — and do the things that most scare us.
Listeners challenge all of us to grow after listening to our interview with Glenn Beck. A writer contemplates her preoccupation with death after he mother’s passing. How men can live longer if they nurture deep friendships. And how humor helps us survive — a preview of the new season of our Creating Our Own Lives podcast.
Literature has the unique power to make us feel less alone in the world by elevating our deepest stories and connecting us beyond the divides of time, space, and politics.
A writer turns away from what’s toxic on social media and chooses self-care in this cultural moment.
A robust hope can be found in the work and life of Langston Hughes, infused with a visionary love for words and the world.
Our dreams can be great motivators. But what if what we aspire to is already within our grasp? A poem on letting go of the stress of ambition and embracing our innate potential.
From a perennial favorite on busyness to hard conversations to help us understand each other — a round-up of the most-read blog posts of the past year.
Unwavering gratitude can be an intimidating ideal. Sharon Salzberg examines gentle attention to the positive as a generous alternative to our negativity bias.
In journalism and in life, a generous understanding of people’s stories is crucial. Courtney Martin with more questions and counsel for imagining each other in all our complexity.
The enduring beauty of nature can be a comfort, but sometimes our pain needs a more empathetic salve. Parker Palmer turns to the unique, healing power of language in times of darkness and hardship.
In an information-saturated world, it’s the power of poetry and art that helps us transcend a steady stream of depressing news reports and partisan diatribes and process just how badly we’re hurting as a country.
Writings on transcending social, psychological, and physical boundaries, and coming together in deeper connection with ourselves and each other.
Physical presence and inner life are more integrated than we might imagine. Meditations on how we move through stress, our relationship with the body, and making meaning in the rhythms of everyday life.
“Let yourself be silently pulled by what you love.” Weaving poesy with mellifluous prose, an Egyptian poet celebrates the power of the lyrical art to bring us closer to the divine, and to ourselves.
To write is to bare your soul to a critical world. A writer reflects on the bravery to reject shame and pursue the creative crafts.
A former sports writer, Jane Gross revisits a lifetime of rubbing elbows with our greatest athletes, from Joe DiMaggio to Muhammad Ali. Wisdom from the stadium press box on the humble, human face of fame.
The desire to write and to read isn’t always handed down, but a single encounter may be all it takes to propel one forward. Sarah Smarsh on meeting Anne Rice with her mother in a Kansas bookstore.
Generations have worshipped him as the King of Folk, but Dylan’s discomfort with the limelight reveals more than mere humility. An examination of the service-oriented theology in the lyrics of a lover of song.
The writer’s life can be an excruciating one, especially for our host. She reveals the vulnerability of exposing herself and staying true to her subject — and even tweeting it out.
Being a published writer, especially of books, is a celebrated marker of accomplishment in our culture. But is it the only way to leave our mark? Courtney Martin with some helpful advice for the struggling writer, or for uncovering a better channel for our creative drive.
Life, like verse, contains beauty, grit, and uncomfortable truth. Inspired by a couplet from Thoreau, our columnist reflects on the journey of life as an artistic, creative craft, in the vein of lyrical composition.
Is it possible to teach doctors how to give bad news? A writer’s probing reflection on hearing — and giving — the hardest messages to receive.
The feeling of being stuck is one we all have experienced at one time or another. Beleaguered by writer’s block, Parker Palmer calls upon his beginner’s mind and encourages us to move forward with hope.
An unexpected exchange catalyzes a conversation about the essential truths of aphorisms and paring the excess without violating the mystery.
It’s easy to mentally sanitize and romanticize the creative process, but the real work is done in the clutter and the mess of daily living. An enconium on imperfection, self-doubt, and the importance of pushing through.
Poetic expression is a character with many personalities, much like one’s favorite pet dog. A new poem from Mary Oliver on the playfulness of writing verse.
Does destiny and fate truly exist? An age-old question, to be sure. Courtney Martin ponders that question and traces how each of our paths may be shaped by willful action and serendipitous encounters along the way.
So often we dwell on our mistakes. Sharon Salzberg helps us step away from this routine and walk a different terrain — with the practice of lovingkindness that develops a flexibility of looking at our own lives.
Spirit intersects matter everywhere. A poet living in Chesapeake Bay meditates on the sacredness of location and the sense of place reinstated after returning to her childhood landscape.
Points of beauty and perspective to mark the holy week, including a stirring rendition of Blake’s “Jerusalem,” a favorite essay on the woman at the heart of Easter Sunday, musings on yoga spirituality for atheists, the opposite of shame, the need for gentleness, the insights of dependence, and the adventure of being born baffled.
We are born baffled. Acknowledging this can be key to becoming a writer or a person who seeks to understand the world around you better. Parker Palmer muses on a writing life and distills his experience into three principles of living deeply and richly within this world.
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.
It’s fall and things are dying. What least productive practices and mindsets are you working on shedding?
What is the autobiography of your voice? An invitation to write the story of your voice and allow yourself to be surprised.
This week provided some sage words on writing from Parker Palmer, a photo essay on “thin places” that take our breath away, a marvelous TED talk from a Nigerian writer, and a picture of the cosmos that stirs our origins.
The Quaker elder offers this poetic reminder on trusting that the writing process itself will help you dig into your bafflement.
A recap of our favorite bits of curiosity from this week, including epistolary correspondence, Krista re-entering the Twitter fray, and a revival post. And a whole lot more!
During these days sacred to both Christians and Jews, a reflection on making space for recreating staid narratives and the new ones we all write together.