Tuesday, September 25, 2007


You've seen the commercials on TV,
I'm sure. The ones that show a cell phone
user backed by a 'network' of folks that
number in the hundreds, seemingly. The
most recent one shows the network
standing on top of a moving train,
ducking and swaying as they support
the person sitting down below. Very,
very effective advertising.

Don't you wish, though, that it was the
church that had come up with that idea?
I mean, the screen shows a fellow who
is going into the boss's office, knowing
that he is likely to be downsized (let
go); or a young teenager is meeting
some of the kids at her new school,
after moving away from the neighborhood
where she had lived since birth; or a
woman standing in the doctor's office
as he shows her the results of her scan,
which do not show good news.

And, in every one of those scenes, the
boss or the school kids or the doctor
glances past the person and says,
"who are they?" as the camera pans to
show Sunday school teachers, deacons,
pastors, family members, strangers -
and the person just smiles and says,
"Oh, that's just my network. They're
with me wherever I go and whatever
I go through."

Don't you wish that it was the church
that was showing such ads on TV?

Sadly, we still seem to be at the stage of
"Can you hear me now?"

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The story is told of the man whose son complained about the terrible circumstances he was facing. The boy said he didn't know how to cope with the adversity of his life.

The father took his son into the kitchen and had him put water in three pots. He had the boy put a carrot in one, an egg in another, and coffee beans in the third. Then they put the pots on the stove, turned on the heat until the water boiled for several minutes in each pot. They then turned off the burners and, using a pair of kitchen tongs, removed the carrot and the egg from their pots, and poured the contents of the third through a strainer into a cup. The dad asked the boy what happened to each. In the first pot, the carrot had become soft; in the second, the egg had become hard, and in the third, the water had changed to coffee.

"The lesson," said the father, "is this: adversity can make you soft by weakening your resolve and sapping your strength; or adversity can make you hard, by making you bitter or mean; or you can change the water of adversity into the coffee of opportunity."

I've been trying to make coffee the last 6-8 weeks. In fact, a lot of coffee! We have had continual, repeated, aggravating, pain-in-the-kazoo, frustrating problems with our internet and email server. The technicians have been out, multiple times, and each left with assurances
that 'you won't have any more problems." And within 24 hours, we would have to call back.

I've lost emails that I thought had reached people, and not received emails folks thought I had gotten (and wondered why I had not responded). We can't maintain our website efficiently. And I finally gave up on trying to do Occasional Sightings. Indeed, my 'strength' (at least cyber-wise) has been sapped, and I border on bitterness towards the service provider, when not wanting to throw the whole system out the window!

But now, I've decided to make coffee. I am trying to do so while using a breath prayer in such moments. I use the word 'frustration' in mine right now, but you can put your own emotion in:

Breathing in, I know frustration is in me.
Breathing out, I know the feeling is unpleasant.
(after a while), Breathing in, I feel calm.
Breathing out, I can let go of the frustration.
(after a while longer) Breathing in, I am at peace.
Breathing out, I offer peace to others.

Can I pour you a cup of coffee?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman