Photo: Darren Braun
I remember one trip to Congo, covering the most lethal conflict since World War II. I interviewed a warlord and the victims of his brutality, and he left a deep impression on me of the capacity for evil. Yet on the same trip I interviewed a Polish nun who had stayed behind when all other aid workers were evacuated, and she was feeding the hungry and negotiating to keep the warlord at bay. I came back wanting to become a Polish nun! That happens time and again. When people are tested, a remarkable number of them show courage and resilience.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on human-rights issues.
Photo: Brian Rea
Psychotherapist Wendy Lustbader is the author of Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older.
I don't think there's a wrong way to pray. You just bring who you are, and you sort of rip your rib cage open: This is where I'm at, this is who I'm thinking about, this is what I'm thankful for. The most beautiful prayers are generally the ones that happen spontaneously. It's less about escaping the everyday flow of life than engaging with it.
There's evidence that praying can help us physiologically—the stillness, the quiet, the deep breathing. But more important, I think, is the fact that acknowledging some power beyond yourself opens you up in unique ways. Human beings are not static, and the direction of your thoughts deeply shapes the kind of person you are becoming. I believe prayer helps you become your best possible self.
Pastor Rob Bell's most recent book is What We Talk About When We Talk About God.
He's witnessed riots in L.A., worked in a mercury mine, backpacked the John Muir Trail. He was a conscientious objector during Vietnam and regrets that he never finished college. One day he said, "Why haven't you asked me about my first great love?" And then I realized that it was as important for him to share as it was for me to listen. Through his stories, my father has given me his whole self, comprehensible and real. I know him as someone who has loved and lost, veered off course and righted his direction. To me, despite his illness, he has never seemed more alive.
Abbe Wright is an assistant editor at O.
Claudia Hammond is the author of Time Warped.
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