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In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  464 ratings  ·  75 reviews
There's an old Irish proverb: 'It is in the shelter of each other that the people live'. In this book much-loved poet, storyteller, theologian and speaker Pádraig Ó Tuama applies ideas of shelter and welcome to journeys of life, using poetry, story, biblical reflection and prose to open up gentle ways of living well in a troubled world.

The fourth gospel tells of Jesus arri
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published February 12th 2015)
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Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely a book I will refer back to as there is much to reflect upon. I found myself marking passages and references to other books throughout my reading of it. Its particular themes of storytelling and continuos change are ones I'm extremely interested in and moved by. Our own stories half told, fully told, always changing, never truly ending. The stories of those close to us and of strangers and how these stories can create such a richness to our daily lives and this world.
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This quiet, graceful book connects a variety of everyday topics with deeper insights about what makes for a meaningful life. I imagine that the thing I like best about it is Ó Tuama's simple honesty. In these pages, there is no artifice, no need to try to sound wise or make a mark. I couldn't put it down, and I hated to finish reading it for the first time. What a lovely, lovely book!
Caitlin H
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first heard of Pádraig Ó Tuama through Krista Tippet's podcast, On Being. Her conversation with him came at a time when, i felt, i most needed to hear it. Especially the beginning snippet, where Ó Tuama states that people who love each other very much can still disagree deeply on things. Listening to him tell stories and read his poetry in his gentle Irish accent made me want to look this book up and read it.

First off, if you're looking for a very linear book, with a distinct begging-middle-e
Scott Vawser
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Favorite book of 2016! This deep and gentle read took me to places of reflection I've not been before. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a poetry recital and couldn't resist buying this book that evening, I was not disappointed!
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the most powerful book I have read all year. It is, to borrow C.S. Lewis' summation of "Lord of the Rings", good beyond hope. The author's blending of poetry, theology, biography,and story is an artifact too rich to be summarized—it must be experienced.
Reading this book will wound, heal, and grow your heart. The author approaches the painful, glorious fact of being one's self in the world and the inscrutable love of god in a way that will have me coming back and back to this bo
Liv Cunningham
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful book, full of integrity, authenticity and humility. Part of why it was such a pleasure to read is that you really get the sense that for Padraig it was an absolute pleasure to write. The pleasure he takes in reading, writing, poetry, people, and place and deep listening . . . really listening to other people’s stories is palpable.

Padraig’s wonderful sense of openness to ‘the other’ is as refreshing as it is expansive and allows space for his deep sense of compassion and
Hannah Nelson
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
to use Pádraig's words, this book read me, not the other way around. rarely have i encountered words so thoughtful & honest that ring so deeply in my heart. Pádraig weaves the narrative of his spiritual journey with stories of various people he has encountered in the many, varied stages of his life. he tells his own unfinished story by saying hello the things we know and love and fear.
there are too many things to say about this feast of beautiful words, but this book is one of those that i'll re
Bob Green
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a joy to read such an honest book that inspires me to consider my own journey through the minefield of faith and sexuality and challenges me to think of those who are excluded because they are different. We all need shelter and this a great place to start
Debs Erwin
I will return to this book again and again; it is beautiful, honest, profound and life-giving. And it has also made me want to get my own copy of a dictionary of etymology!
Luke Magnuson
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4-faith
I want to say this is one of my favorite memoirs I've ever read, but I'm not exactly sure that that's what it is? Part memoir, part wisdom/reflections; almost like a combination between Rachel Held Evans and Thich Hhat Hanh 😂. In any case, I loved it.
Justin Edgar
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really was challenged by this book. It is beautiful. It is disarming. It is full of wisdom. The way O Tuama engages in the Gospel narratives and weaves those stories with his own and with others was majestic. The big idea is do we say hello to the things that come, to a God we love and don’t always understand, how do we say hello to friends, enemies, blessings, judgments, life, death. It will be a book that I will read many times I think. There is also a lot to wrestle with in the ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I was introduced to Padraig O Tuama listening to an On Being podcast. I connected with him as a former ministerial student, a gay man, and a believer that there is a different way to celebrate holiness. That to believe is not a cross to bear, but a celebration of every gift and of every suffering.

I wish I had his gift for words, this lyrical, peaceful, and honest account of angry, fear, and happiness found in the ebb and flow of our relationship with God, with self, and with others. He is a voi
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't agree with everything in this book, but I don't think that was O'Tauma's hope. Someone so kind and thoughtful could only ask to bring my story to his story, so that we could greet one another. The beauty and mess and honesty of his life and story soak every page. I will be returning and returning to this one.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Autobiographical essays of a gay Irish Catholic almost-priest and poet on his coming-out process, the Gospels, and his work in storytelling and reconciliation. Beautifully attentive.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a soothing balm to a weary soul!

Each encounter with Pádraig Ó Tuama is an exercise in meditation, self-encounter and introspection, reconciliation, and an exaltation of language, spirit, and generosity. It’s been such a wonderful journey of discovering him, reading his writings, watching his talks, etc.

This specific book contains multitudes, with the overarching theme being of the stories, languages, names, identities, spaces, etc that shelter us, and most importantly, unravel this intense
Nikki Stahl
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the Shelter is a gorgeous work that weaves together story-telling, poetry, linguistic commentary, biblical narrative, and theological insight. In a rare interview, Mary Oliver comments that she writes poetry so that the reader may find themselves in the poem. Ó Tuama has mastered this art in the form of story-telling. He is gentle, inviting, questioning, and prodding as he leads the way through his own life and the stories he has gleaned along the way that the reader might encounter themself, ...more
Tina Simmons
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the most profoundly moving book I’ve ever read. I do not say that lightly, or with a hint of exaggeration. It has taken me a solid year to get through it. I’ve used it as a devotional. I have to stop often and just sit with the truths presented here, and sometimes battle with things I’m unsure of. I adore this book. I will most likely start it again now that I’m finished. I feel sad at its completion.
Robert Irish
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. I want to give this six or seven stars. Five seems insufficient. This is the most valuable, important book I've read in a very long time. I find it impossible to review without feeling like I am doing it a serious disservice. I know I will be returning to this book, re-reading it, being re-read by it, hearing the word of God reconstructed and cracked open for one who has ears to hear. It took me quite a long time to read (for me), but that is not because the book is difficult, but ...more
Luke Hillier
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, poetry
I went into this book not really knowing what to expect, only that some folks I respect quite a bit really adored it. It was clear from the start that the depth and skill of Ó'Tuama's writing would make for a really insightful, meaningful read, but I will admit it took a bit of time to make peace with the meandering nature of it (after first waiting for a more clear demonstration of what the book was going to "be about). Having finished it, I'm laughing at that early frustration –– it wouldn't s ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Irish, Ó Tuama tells us, the word scáth can mean both 'shelter' and 'shadow'. And that is the ambiguity embraced by his book, a gentle (theo)poetic critique and re-visioning that seeks to find a sense of home in this world by welcoming the good, the bad and the ugly. And, in fact, what do we mean by 'good', 'bad' and 'ugly' anyway?

Beautifully accessible and absorbing, it is a thorough-going and warm work of postmodernism - non-linear, non-didactic and non-dogmatic. It is broken up into short
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
It is such a shame the theology in this book gets weird (for lack of a better word) at times because I love the author's penmanship. I took up this book because of my love of all things Irish, especially in its art and spiritual heritage.

There are some exceptional insights in this book and I especially appreciated the vulnerable humanity described and told. I felt a strong connection with the brokenness of the world and its author. And for that, I am truly thankful.

However, the quality and plea
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Padraig O Tuama is a masterful story teller. Poet, theologian, comedian, philosopher, hope giver, all in one little Irish writer. O Tuama writes, "We are the stories we tell about ourselves and we more than the stories we tell about ourselves. We fiction and fable our lives in order to tell of things that are more than true and we lie - if only by omission - by reducing ourselves to mere facts. 'Ni Fiu sceal gan udar' we say in Irish - 'there's no worth to a story without the teller'. We create ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I saw this book laying on the seat of the car that was parked next to me one day and I added it to my wish list. Fast forward several months and it was back in stock on amazon and I snatched it up. I'm a foster mom and I'd been struggling with being a foster mom specifically and a mom in general and this book was exactly what I needed. It was like talking to an old friend who speaks in poetry. Highly endorse. It's going to stick with me for a while.
Christopher Wareing
Packed with wisdom in the form of anecdotes, poems and musings from a man who’s lived a rich and questioning life. Don’t be put off if you’re not a religious or spiritual person. This is one of the very few books I’ve ever read that I feel like EVERYBODY should read. I’ve already bought 3 copies to gift to friends.
Eliza Jane
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part poetry, testimony and prayer - this is the book my soul needed to finish 2017 and bring in the new year. If you’ve been burned by religious institutions, searched for justice or ever wanted to feel the aching beauty of discovering new faith and new hopes - this is the book
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very thoughtful - I enjoyed this and would recommend it for most readers. This would be great book for conservative evangelicals “reading outside their lane”
Hilary Campbell
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful! Hello to wisdom and being and becoming who we are meant to be.
Katherine Pershey
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best kind of spiritual book: wise, poetic, salty, achingly beautiful.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provided much food for thought

This was recommended to me by the lay assistant at my church. Although I don't share a key determinative factor with the author (or at least it seemed that way to him), I did find much to ponder as he told story after story, a way of locating oneself and making sense of life. There was also some very beautiful poetry which served as connective tissue. The overriding motif was of a single word, 'hello,' the most often repeated word in the book (aside from preposition
Stewart Tunstall
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine - it is in the shelter of each other that the people live.

This is my second time reading this book and it remains one of my favourites. Pádraig Ó Tuama has an appreciation and love of language and words that is almost infectious, which is probably the main thing that led me to pick the book up off my shelf again. It is packed full of theology, Biblical analysis, poetry and stories that leave much to be pondered and challenged. You might not agree with eve
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