Friday, March 20, 2020

canticle 23 for these times

God is the health care folk
all around us:
encouraging us to stay home;
reminding us to wash our hands
so we can help others be safe;
teaching us how to be mindful
and watch over ourselves and others.

even as we shelter in place,
we will not give in to fear,
for God is with us,
in those who call us and care for us,
in those who shop for us,
and those who treat us.

around a lonely table,
in a houseful of family,
in a hospital with strangers,
God feeds us with grace,
pouring out hope upon us,
filling us with peace in sleepless night.
i know, without any doubt,
that God's gentleness and compassion
are walking right beside us,
showing us the way home
to the One who holds us 
in Love's Heart forever.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, March 12, 2020

canticle 95


gospel, country, hip hop,
rock and roll, r & b, classical:
let every genre raise a song
to you, O God.
we will come jumping and jiving
into your living room, clapping
our hands in time to our songs:
for you are beyond words,
and music is the common
tongue to speak of you!
you cradle canyons in your hands
and shape Everests from dust,
you float islands like rafts
across the oceans of the world.

we come running to jump up
in your lap, and laugh as
you bounce us on your knees,
and then sit on the floor
as we play marbles together,
and you listen to our silly jokes.

you ask us to pay attention, and
oops!
we run off, slamming our doors
as hard as we can as if to test
how far your patience stretches.
but
if we put our ears
up to the doors and listen
very carefully, we might just hear
your heart beating slowly,
hoping we would come out
and sit at your feet to hear
your stories of grace

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

canticle 121


our eyes cast down onto
sheol’s road, you tip up
our chins so we can see hope
leaping over the horizon,
running our way through
creation’s flowery fields.

you help us to stay steady
on our feet in the gusts of life;
we won’t catch you daydreaming
you hold us, and all your children
tight to your heart, refusing
to nod off no matter how weary.

you are our babysitter, our guardian;
you are a shady oak on a hot day,
cooling us with sweet lemonade,
showing us how to use a telescope
to explore the moon each night.

you refuse to let the malicious
to gain power over us;
you wrap us in your arms
when we tremble with fear.
whether we are relaxing at home,
running errands, facing down bullies,
trying to stand up to injustice –
wherever, whenever; here, there;
yesterday, today, tomorrow
you are
with us, beside us, for us

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman  

Saturday, February 29, 2020

canticle 32


i wish it was easier
to believe that you wipe
all my foolishness off the slate,
that you don’t hold a grudge
but pour out grace on me.

yet, when i hold it all in,
when i am not willing
to sit down at the table
and share my dumb mistakes,
well,
i feel so empty, so lost,
my soul is so parched
as if i have been in a desert.

but when i sit across from you,
rubbing my fingers in circles
on the tabletop, hoping the server
will come by with more tea;
when i clear my throat, start
to say something, stop,
start over again and, in a rush,
let the words slide over to your side,
you smile, grin, begin to chuckle,
break out into a hearty laugh and,
picking up the check, say,
‘let’s get out of here and
get on with living.’

we go out into the bright sunshine
where i start grabbing everyone
to let them know that, in you,
they find that haven of hope,
they find that island in an ocean of fears,
they find that shady tree on hot days,
they find the one they’ve been longing
to open their hearts so they might be mended.

if we listen carefully, if we write it down,
if we watch carefully, we will discover
that the mystery is really simple to solve –
quit insisting on our own way,
stop trying to pull you to follow us,
let go of all that anger than weighs us down,

and if we do, why
all that grumpiness, all those worries,
all those ‘what will happen if God . . .’
are washed away by those loving waters
of grace, hope, joy, and wonder
and we can holler our hearts out,
we can skip behind you, holding hands
with all the other mended souls,
glad that we finally opened our mouths
and heard your loving voice in our ears.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

canticle 99


no single word describes you,
holiness of our hearts:
you sit on the floor playing jacks,
you walk the sidelines
as we run up and down creation’s pitch,
you could boss us around,
but chose to learn how to crawl
on your hands and knees just like us,
you join in the silly jingles
we make up to give you thanks.

you gave visions to Jeremiah
and spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.
you taught Miriam how to dance
and sang backup for Hannah and Mary.
you listened to every voice,
every heartbreak, every hope
from those in Eden to this very moment.
on mountaintops and in clouds,
cooking breakfast on a beach
and sleeping in the back of a boat,
you taught us your dreams,
you showed us how to care for others.

you lean over to hear our souls,
you wipe every mistake we make
off the whiteboard of life.
you step between us
and the bullies who would taunt
us until we turn and run.

we sing your praises over and over,
in churches and on playgrounds,
in grocery stores and in classrooms,
in museums and malls, on boats and bicycles,
for everywhere we are, wherever we are,
we are standing on holy ground
holding tight to your hand.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

canticle 2


all you conspiracy theorists,
all you worriers stockpiling supplies,
all you politicos claiming absolute everything,
all those convinced that only losers
wrap themselves in grace, hope, peace –

God is doubled-up in laughter,
wiping tears from their eyes,
ready to set all those folks straight,
to knock them off their narcissism:

‘look for my Beloveds,
my children,
who know my heart,
who share my soul,
they are transforming weapons
into musical instruments,
taking day-old bread
to make sandwiches for hungry kids’
knock down walls
to build shelters for rough sleepers.”

pay attention – you know-it-alls:
let your callous souls
be transfigured by compassion,
your bullying words
be turned into love’s language,
your life-destroying anger
become comfort for the broken.

then,
you will find new life
in my heart

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman


terrific Tuesday

except for the single parent
looking for that third job
to put food on the table;
except for those kids
who will be bullied by classmates
whose parents, preachers, and
political heroes tell them
that it is okay to treat others
in those ways;
except for that elder adult
who is trying to figure out
how to pay for medicine;
except for the people
trying to push water
out of their flooded homes,
businesses, schools;
except for that person
going in for (yet) another
round of chemo and radiation;
except for all those we
too often never notice,
it really is terrific Tuesday,
isn't it!?!

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

canticle 119:1-8


when we try
to walk your path,
you bless us by setting
us on our feet when we stumble.
when we listen
to your words and hopes,
we are blessed by
finding your heart;
when we do justice
and care for the vulnerable,
we know we are
following you as we should.
you whisper your dreams
to us, hoping we will
write them down when we awaken.
we long beyond longing
to be your faithful people,
so that we might not be mocked
for simply doing as you ask.
with the cracks in our hearts,
with our souls weeping for others,
we will sing glad songs to you,
songs of remembrance
of all you have shared with us;
songs which share the promise
that you will always be with us.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman