Special Features

Life Lessons Learned from Strangers

Published

Photo illustration by H.Koppdelaney via Flickr

As children, we’re taught to be wary of strangers. But random encounters with people we don’t know can lead to surprising insights about others and opportunities to learn more about ourselves. Click the links below to read this selection of essays about life lessons learned from strangers.

  1. Do Talk to Strangers
  2. Opening the Door of Mercy
  3. Important Strangers
  4. Inviting the World to Dinner
  5. Becoming Friends

Hard Work

Published

Photo by C. Frank Starmer

Hard work can result in the completion of assigned tasks, a steady paycheck, a way to fill time or the simple satisfaction of a job well done. And like many other things in life, work can inspire belief. In honor of Labor Day, click the links below to learn what these essayists believe about their work.

  1. Work Is A Blessing
  2. Leaving Work to Gaze at Sunsets
  3. Living What You Do Every Day
  4. Do What You Love
  5. A Goal Of Service To Humankind

The Meaning of Courage

Published

Photo by Alex E. Proimos via Flickr

What keeps you going when you are afraid to do something but do it anyway? What does it mean to be brave? Whether confronting fear of physical harm or death, or confronting justice and doing what’s right, many people find meaning in taking action to confront their fears.

  1. Small Acts of Courage
  2. Courage Comes with Practice
  3. The Chance to Move Forward
  4. Simple Acts of Courage
  5. Make This World a Better Place

Defining Family

Published

Photo courtesy tiffany terry via Flickr

Many a poet has written that blood is thicker than water. But today, blood and DNA do not necessarily define a family. The following essayists agree with Maya Angelou, who said “family isn’t always blood . . . it’s the ones who love you no matter what.”

  1. My Family Tree
  2. The People Who Love You When No One Else Will
  3. Making Family a Verb
  4. The Blessings of Step
  5. Simple Love Fosters a Family

Our Brother’s Keeper

Published

Photo illustration by Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr

Many of the world’s religions teach the importance of caring for each other, whether it’s tending to a close family member or showing compassion for a complete stranger. Click the links below to read how these essayists explore the simple acts of kindness that can enrich our own humanity.

  1. A Calling We Should Heed
  2. Being My Brother’s Keeper
  3. Only A Little Less Than Angels
  4. A Journey Across America
  5. Kindness Equals Survival

The Little Things

Published

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said that “the little things are infinitely the most important.” Whether it’s sending someone a thank you card, shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, or remembering that your coworker prefers dark chocolate, the littlest things can make a big difference. Click the links below to read what these essayists believe about the little things.

  1. Small and Ordinary Actions
  2. Accomplishing Big Things in Small Pieces
  3. It’s All in the Details
  4. Little Things Matter, Too
  5. I Can Make a Difference

The Immigrant Experience

Published

Photo illustration by Greg Westfall via Flickr

In the heated debates over political policy, it’s easy to forget that America is largely a nation of immigrants. For those who came to this country from distant lands generations ago, to the recently naturalized citizen, the American dream is a powerful draw for people around the world. Click the links below to learn the beliefs that immigration has inspired in these essayists.

  1. My American Dream
  2. A New Beginning
  3. The Right to Be Fully American
  4. An Act Of Faith In America
  5. My Journey into the American Dream
  6. The America I Believe In

Water

Published

Photo by Joe Dyer via Flickr

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Water understands civilization well,” but how well do we understand water? Until we travel to other parts of the world or experience a drought or water main break, we tend to take water for granted. Take a moment to appreciate the importance of water by reading the thoughts of these essayists.

  1. The Last Drop of Water
  2. Navigating Turbulent Waters
  3. A Delicate Balance
  4. With Brown Shoes to Match
  5. A Drop in the Bucket

What’s in a Hug?

Published

Photo by lostintheredwoods via Flickr

When we share a hug with another person, we may not think about just how much it means. More than a quick handshake or saying “hello,” a hug conveys affection, acceptance, or empathy without saying a word. Click the links below to read how these essayists feel about the meaning behind a hug.

  1. A Healing Hug
  2. Hug It Out
  3. Grace Is a Gift
  4. First Friend
  5. The Power of Holding On

Laughter

Published

Photo by craigallyn via Flickr

When is the last time you laughed? Really laughed? Were you watching a funny movie or listening to a great joke? Sometimes a good laugh comes during times of happiness and light, and sometimes it is most welcome during dark times. Read the essays below to find how these people discovered a belief in laughter.

  1. Follow the Laughter
  2. Life Is Wonderfully Ridiculous
  3. A Personalized Laugh Track
  4. Find a Reason to Laugh
  5. The Many Gifts of Laughter