Friday, August 16, 2019

canticle 80

hear us, Tender God,
who gathers us
like a border collie!
you sit on a park bench
built from the songs of angels,
smiling as you watch us
swing high up into the sky, and
when we scrape our knees,
run to pick us up,
kissing our boo-boos!

run quickly, our Parent,
to sweep us up in your arms!

when we speak hollow words
to you instead of our hearts,
our soup is flavored with your tears,
and our bread tastes stale;
even our playmates know
how foolish we have been,
giggling behind our backs
with one another.

run quickly, our Parent,
to sweep us up in your arms!

you took a runner of strawberries
from your garden,
so it might take root
wherever your children live.
it slowly spreads over the lawns
and curls under the trees,
it sneaks towards the sides houses,
and creeps down to the ponds.
when we would make preserves
and keep the jars for ourselves,
you invite everyone to come
and fill their baskets for free,
letting little children get the juice
all over their faces and clothes.

take another look, Gardener of our hearts,
see how the runners might offer
food and joy to so many,
your gift becoming precious to others.
yes, we aren't good caretakers,
yes, we let the weeds creep in,
but you can teach us the right way
to care for all you have offered us,
taking us by the hand, so
slowly, carefully, we may become
master gardeners just like you!
then, we won't make the same mistakes
over and over, but share the bounty,
telling everyone who taught us
how to be good strawberry farmers!

run quickly, our Teacher,
to sweep us up in your arms!

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman



Thursday, August 08, 2019

canticle 50

enough!
God has had enough;
no more standing in the wings,
no more waiting for us
to do what we know we should do.

enough!
God has had enough:
no more keeping silent,
hoping our prayers will take shape,
that our thoughts will lead to action,
that our brokenness will bring healing.
calling us into the living room,
God holds a family meeting:

"enough!
i have had enough
of your kowtowing to the powerful,
your idols made of steel,
your worship of angry words and hearts;
you don't care about the air and water,
the creatures who are dying,
the species that are going extinct!

"enough!
if you hand me another plate
piled with thoughts and prayers,
i will throw it against the wall!
show me your hands and hearts,
how you have fed the hungry,
welcomed newcomers,
taught children the ABCs of grace.

"listen, knuckleheads!
don't twist my words to suit
your political agendas;
don't promise hope with
your fingers crossed behind your backs!
if you see someone bullying another,
get in their face till they stop;
if someone invites you to party
instead of practicing justice, turn them down.

"enough!
you open your mouth and
an avalanche of bile pours out;
you mock the most vulnerable,
you call the stranger vile names,
you think because you sing
praise verses on Sunday, you
can heap abuse on others, and
that i am okay with that
the rest of the days of the week?!

"enough!
now you are going to listen:
to my heart which is shattered,
to my soul which groans in anguish,
to my whispered tears which
flow freely throughout the day.

"enough is enough!
it is time to make justice for others,
to bring healing into division,
to rebuild crumbling neighborhoods,
to live the good news rather
than putting it on church signs:

those are the gifts you can offer to me,
and to your sisters and brothers
who cry out to you for hope."

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman



Tuesday, August 06, 2019

canticle 33

blow the dust off the drums,
put new strings on the banjo,
get the piano tuned, 
hand wooden spoons to little kids
start playing the golden oldies,
while making up new songs for God!

sit down, play scrabble with our God,
forming new words from grace's pile of letters;
words like justice and hope,
words describing stars and sunsets
and God's incredible language of love:
love as sweet as a crisp apple,
love as fresh as an autumn breeze,
love as tart as summer lemonade,
love that's deeper than our fears.

reach out your hands to grasp those
of our sisters and brothers every where
as we join in the dances taught to us
by the Spirit who whispers in our ears.

God knocks over the houses of cards
we build from our foolish thoughts,
simply asking as to hope in the Heart of love,
and to trust as deeply as did are grandparents in faith.
12 we are blessed when we trust in God,
when we see each other as family

God keeps an eye out on all of us,
watching carefully to see if
we love without reservation,
if we offer compassion without conditions
if leaders turn away from power and threats,
offering justice and grace instead

God twirls in circles when we
honor the divine image in others,
when we pick up hope from
the shattered places of life,
when we choose love, not hate;
when we feed those who wander
through both food and fear deserts;

in moments of grief and pain 
beyond imagining, we wait,
and here comes God, in those who run
toward hate, to transform it into love,
who shelter little ones from horror;
we trust, and so we hope;
we hope, and so we offer our hearts
to the One who fills them with grace;
every time we trust, we hope, we come,
God is waiting

every time

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

canticle 107

your grace is as close
as every breath we take;
your love clings tighter
to us than any velcro fastener;
and so we tell everyone
of how you reach out
and gather us from
every edge to which we wander.

some arrive at borders,
weary and broken,
hungering for hope
more than any food,
thirsting for just a sip
of peace and freedom.
they cried to God, who
welcomes them with open arms,
setting a place at the table.
they compose songs of joy
to be sung in the evenings,
with stomachs full and
souls overflowing with laughter.

some huddle in shadowed doorways,
sleeping rough in parks,
listening to the well-off
passing them by on the way home
from fancy restaurants and boutique bars.
they had worked hard all their lives,
but made redundant, jobs converted to tech,
they lost everything, especially dignity.
they cried to God, who
brings light into the dimmest corners,
who shatters despair with hope,
who puts them to work sharing grace
with those who think they have enough,
singing of the One who has never used
the word hopeless about anyone.

some became addicted to opioids,
offered without thought by those
seeking to make money off another's pain;
some heard the dreaded words
'the cancer has come back,'
while others lie awake gripped
by the strong arm of depression.
they cried to God, who
offers the love's brokenness
and wraps them in bands of compassion
soaked with the tears of grace,
and they run to share with others
of the One who will shelter them
in welcome and kindness.

some are buffeted by angry words,
tossed about on the seas of bitterness,
set adrift by those filled with hate.
they knew the love of God,
the hopes God has for all,
but the waves of vilification and judgment
tossed them far into the air,
and sank them into rejection's depths.
finally, when it seemed even hope
had abandoned all hope,
they cried to God, who
told the tweeters to be still,
and the trolls to shut their mouths.
in the quiet of God's heart,
they found their true home,
joining their sisters and brothers,
all their mentors and models
in shouts of acclamation.

for there is One who
will turn floods of vitriol
into dusty dry riverbanks,
who will let the hate's wine
become bitter vinegar poured
into the cups of those who
turn their backs on others.

and he turns food deserts
into farmers markets for the indigent,
fixes the broken pipes so grace
flows without ceasing;
he teaches the hungry the best recipes,
and settles them into
neighborhoods of hope,
where they plant community gardens,
to put fresh produce
on each other's porches,
blessing others as deeply
as God has blessed them.

but those who think they are
holier than others are put in their place,
sent into time-out until they relearn
the ABCs of love's language.
and the vulnerable?
they become God's trusted council,
grace's children applauding with joy,
while the despots lose their voices.

if we have any smarts at all,
we will pay more attention
to God's faithful love.

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

canticle 85

once, we sat in the backyard,
telling stories and watching fireflies;
once, you looked past our foolishness
and boxed up our fibs and shipped them away;
you pushed your anger to the back
of the highest shelf, so you couldn't reach it;
you placed your outrage in the bottom
of the freezer, buried under all the summer fruit.

can you do it again, God of our hearts,
look at our faces, not our faults;
cancel the call to the divorce lawyer,
tear the page marked 'judgment'
out of your calendar?
teach us (again!) to take
great gulps of grace
so we have breath to sing.
open that picture folder marked 'love'
so we can remember together.

tell us the old bedtime stories
of peace which never falters,
of people who never break promises,
of mercy as near as our breath,
of wonders just beyond the horizon.

like old classmates at a reunion,
love and faith will run to hug one another;
justice and hope will exchange vows
under the wedding canopy.
from the tiny seeds of faith,
tall trees will reach for the sky,
and the stars of goodness
will twinkle throughout the night.

you offer us sweet corn for dinner,
and fresh peaches out of your orchard.
honesty will run before you,
shouting that you are on the way
to gather us up in your arms

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman



Saturday, July 20, 2019

may i

broken,
   may i bring healing;
lonely,
   may i open my arms wider;
privileged,
   may i care more for the vulnerable;
rejected,
   may i offer a safe space;
angry,
   may i learn the language of peace;
ridiculed,
   may i affirm others;
hated,
   may i love;
wronged,
   may i be just
hurt,
   may i forgive

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, July 19, 2019

canticle 15

God?
who is welcome in your house;
who gets to play in your backyard?

those who listen to your lullabies of hope,
and share the deep longings of your heart;
those who do not bully others,
who care for friends,
who treat strangers as neighbors;
those who stand up to troublemakers,
and are at the side of justice seekers;
those who learn from their foolishness;
those who are generous to a fault,
and who don't turn against others
for any amount of money.

these are the rocks
in your zen garden
(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman