You are a witness

Where's the Spirit? A weekly collection of content from the wonderful world wide web that challenges us to explore the role of spirituality in society.


Bearing Witness
by Jo McElroy Senecal
The New York Times

How does one bear witness to life’s pain? In this reflection on accompanying people at the end of their lives, namely a loved one, Senecal begins to articulate some of the lessons he’s learned about life—the sweetness, the love, the surrender, and the witness we can offer one another. How might some of what Senecal offers here apply to other kinds of accompaniment we engage with in relationship to others? To be with others fully through whatever comes is the practice of compassion at its core.

When someone says to us, as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, ‘Darling, I care about your suffering,’ a deep healing begins.
— Tara Brach


MIT eases workload, offers support after recent suicides: Students, officials look to lighten the pressure
by Laura Krantz and Matt Rocheleau
The Boston Globe

In culture of high performance and high expectations, how does one manage the stress of failure or possible failure? What are the teachings that help people embrace their imperfections, their humanity, and their motivation to thrive? Following a series of suicides, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is being called to address these questions with its students who are struggling to manage stress. At MIT or anywhere that stress manifests in such ways, how might space be created to reflect upon the values that are operating within such communities and the individuals who comprise them. The hashtag #peoplebeforePsets speaks to the fact that certain unspoken values within the MIT community are being challenged during this period of mourning and reflection.


Gratefulness and the Power of Radical Sufficiency
by Kristi Nelson

How often do you practice gratitude? Where is the balance of your attention—on the positive or negative? Gratitude, recognized by all spiritualities and psychology as a transformative practice, is an opportunity to engage with your strengths as an individual or as a community. As Nelson writes in this gentle reflection, “Grateful living invites a radical experience of sufficiency, and sufficiency invites us toward using our lives and resources in more radically generous, open-hearted, and conscientious ways.”

PRACTICE: Keep a gratitude journal—at the end of each day or week, write down five events or experiences for which you are grateful.