Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Read Isaiah 6:1-13

By all standards of his day, he was on his way to success. Bright, articulate, popular with his friends and colleagues, he probably would have been a great professor, a scholar, a mentor, an author. But on December 10, 1941, Thomas Merton entered the monastic life at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Though he had been expressing an interest In developing his faith in his adult years, and was especially drawn to those 'saints' with deep spiritual roots, his friends were still surprised by his decision to enter a life of poverty, of stability, of a commitment to living in community with others. Yet for Merton, he felt like he had finally arrived home. And 27 years later, when he died on December 10, 1968, he had indeed become a great teacher, a scholar, a mentor, an author - a spiritual guide who continues to speak to millions of people throughout the world.

No one can really put into words why or how they are called to lives of faith. For some, it is a journey home; for others, it is the sense of being chased by God. For some, it is a dramatic epiphany such as Isaiah speaks about; for others, it is a dawning awareness of how God wishes them to use their gifts. For some, it is a call to leave everything behind and enter a world of silence and prayer; for others it is a job filled with meetings and paperwork. For some, it is lived out as a pastor or priest; for others, it is a life of teaching, of mothering, of laying bricks, of nursing care, of sitting at a keyboard. But, like Merton, each of us is called to follow, to live out our faith, to finally find that place God has called us to be a servant.

A few months ago, a friend asked me to write a prayer for her ordination to ministry. While I wrote it for a specific person, called to a particular place, perhaps it speaks to all of us, who seek to listen and to keep on listening to the One who calls us.

who -

to look foolish
so others might
discover you;

to become weak
so your hurting children
might be touched
by your healing heart;
so those who weep
by cold graves
might feel your
warmth comforting them;

to speak
(not in six-syllable lectures)
but to whisper
your simple words:
grace hope
peace joy
love life
those teeny-tiny seeds
of your heart
nourished with cold cups
of living water,
growing into gracefulness, embracing and welcoming
all (not only you);

who -

here i am, Lord:

sent here.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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