From the Editor: Engaging Columns

From the Editor: Engaging Columns


What does it take to write an engaging column?

I admire our regular columnists. It takes an inventive mind and an observant eye to create fresh 1,000-word illuminations every two months. It probably doesn’t hurt to be having new experiences, meeting new people. Paul Sutherland is traveling through the U.S. in an RV, and he shares an on-the-road experience in his column on page 74.

Sarah Bowen finds in the natural world lessons for humans, requiring her to have a deep understanding of both non-human and human animals. This issue she offers ideas for New Year’s resolutions inspired by snakes (page 76).

And there’s never a shortage of interesting people doing interesting things who we can approach about writing a guest column. Leslie Gray Streeter writes about widowhood this issue (page 78).

Our advice for guest columnists is to write about something specific. No generalities. In the words of William Carlos Williams, “in the particular to discover the universal.” I’m confident that even though Leslie’s column is specific (particular), it’s universal. We’ve all had our worlds crash down in one way or the other.

Speaking of suffering: David Chernikoff explores the inevitability of suffering and how to suffer effectively (page 20). “There are time-tested practices and perspectives that can transform our suffering into a curriculum that actualizes our best human qualities,” he writes.

What’s the opposite of suffering? Happiness? Joy? Contentment? Maybe it’s excitement. Our retreat section (page 37) might offer you that last emotion as you use our guide to start planning a retreat. These stories are by the wonderful Mary Bemis; she’s been the S&H go-to for retreat content for years. Her stories will help you decide whether to go on a retreat; how to prepare for a retreat; how to dine at home like you’re on a retreat; and how to bring the lessons from a retreat home.

After you read this issue, let us know what you think by emailing us at [email protected]. Any favorites? Anything you didn’t find interesting? We want to know.


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