Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

i was frantic!

i climbed into the attic,
rummaging through
all the empty boxes
saved for next Christmas;

i waded through all the
shredded wrapping paper
in the garbage:

i was frantic -
i couldn't find you anywhere!

but there you are:

out riding sleds
or new bikes
with the younger ones;

letting teenagers
beat you
at video games;

doing the dishes
with Uncle Jim;

reading a story
to Gran
as she dozes off;

and laughing
at my foolishness,
because you came searching
for me so long ago
and have never lost me!

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

O come,
Wonderful Counselor:
to listen to my loneliness,
to comfort my grief,
to cradle my brokenness,
to touch me
and make me whole.

O come . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

O come,
Prince of Peace:
to reconcile
the warring sides
of my self,
that I might
be made complete
in the divine image
once and for all.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 19, 2005

O come,
Spring of Hope:
to melt the bitterness
of our frozen hearts,
so we may flow
in ceaseless service
to a world in pain.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 18, 2005

O come,
Host of the world:
to welcome us at your feast,
to pull out the seat of honor
for the least among us,
to feed us
until we burst
with joy.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman
i don't have time:

from errands,
i don't have time to listen:

to my children singing in the tub,
to my spouse quietly fixing dinner,
to that angel whispering for attention;

exhausted from
my latest expedition
to the mall,
i don't have time to wait:

to find hope sitting in my mailbox,
to see you walking with me in the snow,
for you to fill my emptiness;

spending the whole weekend
getting the house decorated,
i don't have time

to greet my neighbor with a smile not a mumble,
to scrape the ice off my heart,
to be rocked gently in the cradle of your love.

hear i am, Lord,
hoping you have time
for me . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O come,
Grain of Gentleness:
to feed us,
so we might
laugh in delight
as we gorge ourselves
on your joy.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 16, 2005

O come,
Vessel of Grace:
to fill our hollow souls
with your giving spirit,
so we might offer ourselves
in service, and in hope,
to everyone we meet.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 15, 2005

O come,
Bright Morning Star:
to light our way
through the shadows
of our fears,
and lead us
to the stable
where Grace gently sleeps
in peace.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

O come,
Water Walker:
to splash through
the puddles of our sin,
to dry us off
with your tears,
and enfold us
in the warmth
of your grace.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

O come,
Key of Hope:
unlock our shuttered hearts,
that the doors to our soul
may be flung open wide
to welcome you
with joy and laughter.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 12, 2005

O come,
Dancer of the Universe:
to gather us up
in your arms
and to twirl us
around and around
in your joy.

O come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 11, 2005

O come,
Sentinel of the stars:
keep us safe from our fears,
that we may set them
to the side of the path,
as we journey to Bethlehem
and to your heart.

O come . . .


Saturday, December 10, 2005

O come,
Winter Wind:
to cool
our fevered focus
on ourselves,
that we might bring
the warmth of your love
to those for whom winter
is every season of their lives.

O come . . .


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 09, 2005

O come,
Snowfall of serenity:
to calm our harried lives,
that we might hear
your angels
whispering to us,
as the Spirit
drifts gently
through the air.

O come.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 08, 2005

O come,
Mist upon the lake:
move over us
and cover us
with your peace,
that we might
walk gently
through this day.

O come.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's Not Rocket Science

it's not rocket science,
is it, Lord?

making others feel welcome,
i mean.

if they show up
(like John)
we can just slip off our shoes
and get more comfortable;

if they come
(like John)
speaking in a way
we don't understand,
all we have to do is listen;

if they invite us
(like John)
to try a different way
of doing things,
we can jump into the water
and see what it's like.

it's not rocket science,
is it, Lord?

after all,
you welcome us
to your heart
just as we are.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 27, 2005

so come . . .

when no one
seems to pay attention,
we hesitantly reach out
and tug at your sleeve,
"please, listen."

so, come . . .

you are willing
to stand on the street corner,
dressed in dirt and rags,
holding a sign
that reads:
"will work
for those
who wait."

so, come . . .

ignoring our imperfections,
overlooking our hardened hearts,
you keep reworking us
on your wheel of grace,
smiling to yourself
as we gradually take on
the divine shape.

so come, Lord Jesus,
come . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 20, 2005

when you sit
with the homeless
at the local shelter,
you are enthroned in glory,
surrounded by the angels
we have forgotten;

when you pass
the bread
at the downtown soup kitchen,
you bless it
with your grace,
that your neighbor
might be filled with hope;

when you take off
your winter coat
and drape it around
a shivering child,
she is warmed
by your heart
aflame with compassion;

we wonder why we cannot find you,
when we search for you
among the powerful and wealthy,
while all along you have been with
the citizens of your Kingdom:
the hungry, the naked, the sick,
the imprisoned, the lost, the lonely.

help us to meet you there,
Lord Jesus,
help us to meet you there.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 13, 2005

ACTS Prayer

i am not sure
what adoration sounds like,
unless it is the geese singing
on a crisp fall morning
as they glide over my head;

i feel absolutely
no need to confess -
until i see
the disappointment
on my child's face
because i thought
another meeting
was more important
than her concert;

is not only the grace
a child offers at a meal,
it is the relief
in the voice of his grandfather
sharing the results
of his recent medical tests;

i find it difficult to beg,
but when i see people
digging out
from the rubble of an earthquake,
or struggle to feed abandoned kids,
i find myself on my knees
in supplication for them.

O Lord, hear my prayers.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes;
by cancer, autism, depression;
by poverty, homelessness, hunger.

how can we deal with all the needs?

how can we touch all the pain?

how do we embrace the suffering
which surrounds us?

when we gather up the left-overs
of the feast you give us each day,
we have more than enough
for compassion for all.

help us to open our eyes,
and our hands,
Feeding Lord.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

crumbs . . .

that's what we think
you have given us,
O God,
when we look around
and see all that someone else has
and we don't.

but our covetousness crumbles
when we think of the broken bread
that has made us whole,
when we drink from the cup of hope
which is never empty,
when we stand at the foot of the cross,
which has emptied us of our sin.

so richly blessed . . .

why then are we only willing
to offer crumbs
to those who come to us
searching for you?


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 06, 2005

i need to pray:

my heart is filled with bitterness
that rises up in my throat
threatening to choke me;

my soul overflows
with words that are best spoken
in darkened rooms;

my arms grow weary
from the weight
of my life, my stress, my fears;

the pain and struggles
of my family and friends
slip through my fingers
because my hands are so full.

you have promised
to transfigure my bitterness
into the oil of gladness;

you have leaned your head down
to listen to me;

you have invited me
to hand you my burdens;

and perhaps
you want me
to be the hands of healing
you will use.

i need to pray,
i need to pray.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 05, 2005

when i am adrift,
when i feel battered
by people i trust,
when i wonder if
i can even
get out of bed in the morning,

you come to me:

are you a ghost;
a nightmare;
a left-over
of the pizza
i ate last night?

or are you the One
i can cling to
when i am sinking
under the weight
of my stress;

are you the One
who holds my hand
when i am afraid
to step out in faith;

are you the One
who sits by my bed
in the dark hours,
that all is well,
there is nothing to fear,
there is no need to doubt.

save me, Lord,
save me!

for i cannot . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman
based on Matthew 14:22-36

Thursday, November 03, 2005

in silence,
i wait;

in hope,
i listen;

in joy,
i receive;

at peace,
i rest.

Blessed be,
blessed be.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bless the Lord

in the leaves
that have turned
brilliant yellows and reds,
and which giggle
as we rake them into piles:
we see God's enduring love;

in the children
roaming from house to house,
their joy and excitement
shining through their
Halloween masks:
we see God's enduring love;

in the daughter
sitting by the bed
of her failing mother,
in the father
tenderly tucking
his children into bed:
we see God's enduring love;

in the parents who work
two and three jobs
to feed and clothe their children,
in the teacher
who stays late
to tutor a struggler:
we see God's enduring love.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
for all the signs
of God's love:
which endures forever and ever.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

For All the Saints

For Columba, Phoebe, Hild, Cuthbert,
Ninian, Brigid and all the faithful
who kept the Light of Christ alive
in the darkest of moments;

For Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day,
Brother Roger, Mother Theresa, and
all those who remind us that our
calling is still to that sainthood
which serves, which prays, which
listens, which gives;

For Teddy, for Joel, for Justin,
for Artiffany: for all those
differently-gifted saints
through whom God has blessed us
with laughter, with joy, with grace,
with a glimpse of the kingdom;

For the Millers, Fred White, Billy
Wireman, Eleanor Pugh, Wellford Hobbie,
John Trottie, Betty Achetemeier,and all
the other mentors of my life;

For all those who this day choose
to entertain angels rather than
be entertained by our culture;

For all those who today will let go
of their wants in order to serve the
needs of another;

For all those who tonight will sit
by the bed of the dying, rather than
resting in their own sleep;

For all those who tomorrow will try
to be faithful, again, in following

For all the saints,
we give you thanks,
Precious God,
we give you thanks.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 30, 2005

if we practiced
what we preach,
O God:

our pockets
would be empty,
and the poor
would be Citizens of the Year;

our waistlines
would be thinner,
and the hungry
would not have to stand
in soup lines;

our closets
would be empty
and the homeless
would be warm
this winter;

our pride
would be thrown out
with the rest of our garbage,
so we could shoulder
the burdens of the broken.

give us more time to practice,
Gentle Teacher,

not so we could
become perfect,

but that our deeds
would become


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 23, 2005

how do
i love you
when my mind
is so easily distracted
by the yelling on television,
the anger on the roadways,
the dullness in my life?

how can
i love you
when my heart
is so broken by
the hatred among believers,
the bitterness of friends,
the forgiveness which eludes me?

how should
i love you
when my soul
thirsts for a companion,
hungers for empathy,
longs for a respite from its weariness?

just maybe,
if i stop hanging on
to all my questions,
let go of all my answers,
and be caught by your grace,
i will be able to love
with all that i am,
all that i have,
all that i hope to ever be.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman
(based on Matthew 22:34-46)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

it's always the same,
the old shell game:

here's the stack
i give to the tax man;

here's the pile
for Master Card;

here's the check
i will pay to the energy folks;

and here's what's left
for me.

it's always the same,
the old shell game:

no matter how
i move them around,
switching them back and forth
as quickly as i can,
the stacks, the piles,
the checks
remain the same.

i honestly want
to give you what is yours,
Generous God,
but can I -

when it's only
a game to em
and not
a way of life?


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 13, 2005

when people come into
the hospital room,
their eyes roam
from window to TV to door,
sliding over me in the bed;

but not you . . .

you plop yourself in the chair,
take your knitting out of the bag,
look me in the eyes and ask,
"so, how is it going?"

i run into casual friends
at the mall
and immediately i can see
the gears engage,
the forehead wrinkle,
the tongue stammer,
'hi, uh, uh,
(what's her name? c'mon -
it's right on the tip of my brain)
how are you doing?
wow, look at the time!
gotta to you later.'

but not you . . .

i hear your excited shout
as you run to catch me,
'hey, Beloved!
gosh, you look great!!!
got time for a cup of coffee?
i would love to catch up
on what's been happening with you.'

my dad comes to my recitals:
but he's always looking at his watch,
jiggling his knee,
ducking out into the hallway
to take a cell call;

but not you . . .

you come up and say hello
to my teacher,
you pay rapt attention to my friends,
and when i go to the piano,
you lean forward in your seat,
hold your breath,
and you listen as if there
was no one else in the world.

you really, really want to be here -
with me!



(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

when we fund clinics
for street people,
and shelters
for battered women;

when we give up
that 'thing' we want so badly,
so others get the basics
they need;

when we speak out
for the voiceless,
and lift up
the fallen:

we have heard your call,
Broken God:
to give justice
to the weak
and to rescue the needy.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

my spine is slowly bent
and my shoulders ache
from carrying the burden
of my life;

my hands are clenched tight
as i struggle
to lift the box
filled with all my pain,
my doubts, my worries, my fears;

you whisper in my ear
the words i never expected:
'here, let me carry your life
in my hands,
and as for that box,
why not just set it down
and leave it behind.

'you will have no need
for those things
where i am taking you.'

Thank you,
my Strength,
my Burden-Carrier,
my God.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, October 10, 2005

why are we bold enough
to hand gospel tracts
to people . . .

but not to heal them
of their sickness?

why are we willing
to raise money
for a family who
has lost a loved one . . .

but not to raise
that persone from the grave?

why are we eager
to cast out the people
we disagree with . . .

but unable to do anything
about the demons
we carry around with us?

is it because
we carry so much dust
in our souls
we cannot make room
for your miracles
to work through us?

(based on Matthew 10:5-15)

(c) 2005 Yhom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 09, 2005

you teach me
to love my enemies as dearly as friends;
to not strike back at those who hurt me;
to serve others before i look after myself:
but i forget . . .

you give me
grace beyond measure;
hope which conquers despair;
peace that mends the frayed cuffs of my soul:
but i misplace them in this mess
i call my life . . .

you tell me
i am your Beloved;
you have tattooed my picture
in the palm of your hand;
you will never forsake me;
but i can't hear you over my grumbling . . .

you show me
your innocence in a baby;
your gentleness in a mother;
your wisdom in a grandfather:
but too often,
i turn a blind eye . . .

i will rejoice:
for you continue
to teach,
to give,
to tell,
to show . . .

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, October 07, 2005

i will remember . . .

when the thunder
of criticism and nit-picking
rattles the windows of my heart:
i will remember
how much you love me
and accept me without reservation;

when i am soul-weary
and cannot close my eyes in rest,
i will remember
how your arms of comfort
are always around me,
rocking me to sleep;

when i am forgotten
by my friends,
and ridiculed
by those who know nothing
of who i am,
i will remember
that you have chosen
to dwell in the deepest
recesses on my spirit,
and promised never, ever
to forsake me.

i will remember,
Gracious God,
i will remember!


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 06, 2005

be with me
in a special way today,
Gracious God.

I am traveling through
the wilds of the world,
and it may prove too tempting
to grumble about what
I have left behind,
rather than opening
my eyes
(and my soul)
to the wonders
you have waiting for me
just over the next hill.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

in a world of 'power lunches',
you pull out a chair
at your table,
for the prostitute
who is by herself;

in a culture of restaurants
that are the places to be 'seen',
you show us the empty stool
at the lunch counter
where the blue collar workers gather;

in a society that values
networking and connections,
you go looking for those
who have been discarded
by the rest of us.

When we are tempted sit
with the powerful,
the wealthy,
the influential:
remind us,
Inclusive God,
who you hang out with.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

when we eat less
that others may have more;

when we pick up a hammer
to provide a home
for a single mother;

when we respect the homeless
as much as we do our homes:

we do not forget the lives
of the poor,
even as you do not forget,
Christ of unending Compassion.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, October 03, 2005

if i spend too much time
worrying about
what i don't have,
i might get distracted
and trip over the blessings
you have given me:

the sun dancing
on the lawn,
as it peeked
through the leaves
this morning;

the excited chatter of kids
walking to school;

the privilege
of praying for my family and friends,
as i walked the dog.

Like the psalmist,
there is nothing on earth
that I want
more than you,
O God,

for you have given me
everything I need.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 02, 2005

maybe we ought to form
a tenants' rights organization,
Owner of the Vineyard;

after all,
we seem to be doing
a pretty good job
with what you have given us;

what do we need
with those servants
you keep sending us:
Mother Theresa,
Brother Roger of Taize,
Martin Luther King, Jr.,

and all the others
who don't seem to have a clue
as to how to run
a vineyard?

if you aren't careful,
we might discover that
humility is preferred
over power;

service is more seductive
than success;

wisdom is to be more treasured
than wealth.

and then what will happen
to what you have created?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, October 01, 2005

leaves slowly twirling
down to the lawn;

a cat silently stalking
a dust bunny
under the bed;

a dog
sitting on the grass
gazing hopefully
up into the tree,
just knowing,
that the squirrel will fall out;

kids doing their best
to make a mess of the kitchen
as they fix breakfast;

parents groaning
as they reach
for their robes,
their glasses,
their energy;

saturday morning
in your kingdom,
Chuckling God,
saturday morning
in your kingdom.

Thank you!


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 30, 2005

if you choose, Lord,
you could wipe out
the poverty in our land.

if you choose, Lord,
you could end the suffering
of children and women.

if you choose, Lord,
you could destroy all weapons
and institute a reign of peace
throughout the world.

if you choose, Lord,
all these things -
and more -
could take place.

like the Hebrews
in the wilderness,
help us to stop our grumbling,
and remember
you have chosen -
to do all these things,
through us.

(based on Matthew 8:1-4)

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 26, 2005

Matthew 6:25-34

with a refrigerator
overflowing with food,
i don't need to worry
about food or drink,

but i do worry
about those whose
whose next meal
might come from
the garbage i throw out,
whose water is polluted?

my closet runneth over
with garments,
so i can pick and choose
what to wear each day,

but what about those
whose clothes
would be considered rags
in most households?

you tell me not to worry -
which is good advice,
Loving God,
but i have a hunch
you want me to do something
for those who don't have
all with which I am blessed.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 22, 2005

sitting in my dry office,
the sun shining outside,
white clouds drifing on the blue sky,
i can be lulled:
into complacency,
into not caring,
into forgetting.

drum on my window
and remind me of those
who await the blow of Rita;
cast a shadow across
my screen,
so i will pause
and remember those
who serve in harm's way;
pound on my door
and move me to action,
that i might serve
you and your people;

help me to stop drifting
as a disciple
and to get moving
as a servant.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

when we help the poor,
instead of talking about them;
when we comfort the widow,
instead of ignoring her;
when we welcome the orphan,
rather than shutting our doors,
we are blessed with more of your mercy,
Tender Lord,
to offer to others. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 18, 2005

we know how the world operates:

you work hard,
you pay your dues,
you show up early and leave late,
you sacrifice your family, your values,
your self on the shrine of stress.


you come along,
upsetting the applecart
we have stacked so carefully
with all our expectations,
all our assumptions,
all we have been taught

handing every single one of us
the same gift;

and you walk away,
your hands stuffed
into your empty pockets,
softly humming 'Amazing Grace'
under your breath,

as you leave us
with our jaws
scraping the ground.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10)

you bless the poor, Loving God,
when we wish they would disappear
from our sight (and our communities!);

you comfort the grieving,
when we wish they would stop crying
and get on with their lives;

you fill those whose hunger
for your kingdom
will not be filled with platitudes
and whose thirst for justice
is not quenched
by the false promises of politicians;

you cradle the peacemakers in your lap,
when we would laugh at them
for their childlike naivete;

you would bless those
we curse for their idealism,
while you yearn
for the day
we will join their ranks.

Blessed are you,
God of the Different Way.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Matthew 4:18-25

why is it that
we are so reluctant
to follow you,
O Lord?

why do we drag our feet
when you invite us
to pull our nets
out of the water
and hang them up for now
to join you on an adventure
that will last forever?

why do we always manage
to find excuses
for delaying our decision
instead of immediately
running after you?

why do you keep calling us
when we are so reluctant
to listen?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 12, 2005

for victims of floods,
and captives of fears:
we pray, O Lord.

for those recovering from tsunamis,
and those healing from terror:
we pray, O Lord.

for children who have lost everything,
and for strangers who would give
them all that they need:
we pray, O Lord.

for those who tremble on beds in shelters,
and those who comfort them in the night:
we pray, O Lord.

Hear our prayers,
O Lord,
but especially
hear theirs.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Matthew 18:21-35

seven times?
i think
i reached that number
by the age of 5 -
but you kept on forgiving me;

seventy-seven times?
i easily surpassed
that figure
before i was
old enough to drive -
but that didn't stop you;

so why
am i so reluctant
to give a dipperful of water
from the river of grace
in which i swim
to someone else?

have patience with me, Lord:
until i learn
that forgiveness
is not a score i keep
but a life i live

and over

and over

and over

until i lose count.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 10, 2005

is that a belly laugh I hear,
Wonderful God,
at the vanity in my soul
that assumes it knows all the answers?

is that a chuckle
echoing in heaven
at my latest foolishness
in wanting to do things my way?

is that you rolling
around on the floor,
at my feeble attempts
to explain that mystery
which is You?

Is your gift of laughter
what I am missing
in a life guided by

If so,
then fill me up,
Mirthful God,
fill me up.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 09, 2005

When we seek to heal brokenness,
when we put our grudges out with the garbage,
when we are willing to embrace
the one who hurt us terribly,
we listen to you, Tender Jesus,
telling us to forgive
without keeping count.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Keep me moving forward,
not backward,
Cloud of Hope.

When the going got tough,
you didn't say to Abe and Sarah,
'my bad, folks; go back to Ur.'

When the wilderness
proved more than your people
were looking for,
you didn't yell at Moses,
'oops, I made a mistake;
turn around and head back to Egypt.'

When the exiles
struggled to rebuild their lives,
you didn't tell them,
'yeah, the road is not as smooth
as I thought it would be;
why don't you move back to Babylon?'

No, with you there is only one gear:

keep me moving in your direction,
God waiting on the horizon
of my life.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

just a morsel, Lord,
that's all i ask:
a taste of the enthusiasm
the dog displays
as she greets her friend,
the sun,

or even a pinch, Lord:
of the incredible patience
the cat has
as he watches the birds
from the safety of his indoor perch,
the tail moving gracefully
back and forth,
back and forth,
serenity in motion;

how about a dash, Lord,
a dash of the energy
the kids have as they wait
on the corner for the bus:
chattering like magpies,
dancing like fireflies,
laughing away the sleep in their eyes.

That's all i want, Lord,
as i begin another day;

but i will settle
for that smidgen of grace
which will sustain me
in the hours that await.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Parent of all people,
you are the Holy One:
choosing to be with us
that we might live
in your kingdom.

You are our Destination:
offering peace to warmakers,
justice to outcasts,
righteousness to the lost,
hope to the broken-hearted;

you are Nurture:
sharing your Bread
with the hungry,
pouring living water
into the deserts of our lives;

you are Compassion,
forgiving us even when
our silence encourages oppression,
our fears foster violence,
our desires harm others;
modeling for us
how to forgive others;

you will not hand us over
but snatch us from the grasp
of the Evil One.

your kingdom is home;
your weakness is power;
your humility is glory.

now and forever. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 05, 2005

for dogs
who forget to sleep in
on holidays;
for cats
who think every day
is a holiday
(about them!);

for fireworks
that dance
in the night skies;
for butterflies
that glide
on summer breezes;

for children
bouncing on trampolines;
for wrinkled hands
that caress our cheeks;

for all blessings
that are ours
to give away:

we thank you,
Wonderful God,
we thank you!

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 04, 2005

in sporting arenas
where normally cheers and taunts
are heard,
of thanksgiving,
of need,
of hope
will be lifted.

in schools
where silly songs
are sometimes sung,
psalms will be spoken,

on a beachfront,
where only a floor
and a reconstructed altar
people will meet
with their brokenness
scattered around them
like the bones of the martyrs.

wherever God's people gather
on the Lord's Day,
they will not be alone:

the One who has promised
to always be in their midst
communing with them.

the One whose Breath
calmed the waters of chaos
and comforts the broken-hearted,
gently moves upon them
with healing and hope;

the One who will not let
the orphan and widow
go uncared for,
who will not let
the stranger be turned away,
who will not let
suffering and death
have the last word,

runs toward them,
sweeping them up
into the arms of evelasting love,
and carries them
into the grace of the kingdom.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wind of God:
move over Katrina's chaos:
create hope
where there is only despair;
bring life
where death stalks the streets;
give birth to love
where anger and violence live.

Breath of God:
blow away
all worries and fears,
all distress and hopelessness,
all doubt and brokenness.

Spirit of adoption:
reunite families that have
been torn apart;
bring communities together
that they might rebuild
their common life;
sweep us together
that we might reach out
to serve our sisters and brothers,
knowing that we are
one Family.

Spirit of God,
Spirit of Hope,
Spirit of Life:
move in our midst
in all the days to come.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 02, 2005

God of of the broken-hearted:
the streets of your kingdom
are flooded with our tears,
for we have no other place
to offer them.

Bearer of pain:
you heard the wailing of Rachel,
the loud laments in Ramah;
hear the cries of
our sisters and brothers in New Orleans,
whose babies have no milk,
whose parents have no oxygen,
whose lives have no future.

Repairer of streets:
comfort those who see houses
slipping into the sea;
who watch bodies floating by;
who look for rescue in their distress.

Builder of communities:
give those who have experienced
terror and loss
a vision of recovery and peace;
give those who have lost everything
a future filled with hope;
give those who wander lost and afraid,
a people who will embrace them
and give them life.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 01, 2005

we gather in this place,
warm, safe, secure,
trusting and believing
that you are with us.

they gather
on rooftops
waving signs for help;

they gather
in a football stadium
seeking safety and security;

they gather
at the levees
to pile up sandbags
to try to stop the flooding;

they gather
in shelter at schools
reaching out to help
the children and elderly;

they gather,
from all parts of the country,
to offer all that they have
to those who have lost everything.

keep your promise
to be with us
wherever we gather.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

it was tempting
this morning,
to grumble
as I walked the dog
in the gently falling rain,

then i thought
of the folks
who would like nothing more
than to be able
to walk their neighborhoods
that are flooded
with water and debris;

it is easy to grumble
about the extra hours
i will spend today
in meetings,

until i remember
the emergency crews,
the National Guard,
all the folks who will spend
18-20 hours a day
for the next few months
helping the victims of Katrina;

if i don't find you
instantly available
for my petty needs,
remind me, Helping God,
that you are with those
who are filling sandbags
and piling them up;
you are wading through
waist-high water to bring
food to the hungry;
you are standing watch
over the children
whose parents are battling exhaustion;
you are with those
who need you the most.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 28, 2005

if i take off my shoes
to serve the needy,
i fear i will be
scarred by their pain;

if i slip off my sandals
to search for the lost,
i worry that i will
never get all the mud off;

if i remove my trainers
to get near your burning bush,
i know that i will leave
bearing a cross;

but you stand there
waiting to wash my feet,
to bind up my wounds,
and to nail your feet
to my sin.

i will run
through the grace-dewed
grass of your kingdom,
you are
who you say
you are!

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mark 1:40-42

a stray dog
shivering in a doorway;
a homeless family
in line at the shelter;
children kidnapped
and forced into slavery,
or into rebel armies:

who doesn't feel sorry
when faced with such sights,
who is not filled with compassion?

but who is filled with enough pain
to seek justice for those
dumped by the side of the road
by the world?

who is filled with enough anger
to be willing
to fast
so that others might eat;
to walk
so that others might have heat;
to listen
so that others might be heard.

You are,
Passionate God,
you are!

And you call us
not just to feel pity,
but to feel moved
about ending poverty;

not just to give someone a bandage,
but to bind their spirits,

not just to give someone a handout,
but to touch them,
to welcome them,
to include them in our lives.

We are compassionate,
help us to be passionate.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 21, 2005

on Monday,
i proclaimed you
a pest,
for constantly poking me in the soul
and saying:
'why aren't you . . .
'did you see . . .
'how come you didn't . . .?'

on Tuesday,
i said you were a
to imagine anyone
would take up a cross
and follow you;

on Wednesday,
i called you a name
(i won't repeat here)
for letting a gentle saint
be murdered in his church;

on Thursday,
i lament you as
as your weeping brothers
cradle your sobbing sisters
carrying them gently
into a shalom
not yet envisioned.

allow me to start over,
and simply say
you are

my Hope
my Comfort
my Guide
my Joy
my Savior

and forever.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 14, 2005

there was that day
(it seems like yesterday
though so long ago),
when i decided
to search for you,
and took a chance
i might find you

there was that path
(so overgrown with weeds
i was sure i was lost),
i was following
through life
until i came around
the bend
and saw another road.
i took a chance
that it might lead me
to your heart.

there was that time,
(i thought would last forever),
when the only story i knew
was the one i wrote,
filled with sorrow and loneliness;
so i took a chance
on reading yours.

through every day,
on every path,
in eveyr moment;
in my confusion,
in my certainty:

you have chosen
to take a chance on me.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 05, 2005

the car pulls up in front of the house,
the officer and chaplain
get out together,
moving as one
with silence in their walk
and grief cradled in their hands.
behind the living room curtain,
hearts that once leaped
at the sight of their child
getting off the school bus,
no shatter into a million pieces.
be with them, Merciful God,
and catch their tears
in you own grieving heart;
walk with them, Ever-present God,
in the days of emptiness
that lie ahead;
mend them,
God of wholeness,
when they hold their brokenness
out to you.
Comfort them, Tender God,
as only a Parent
who has lost a child
can do.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, July 24, 2005


not the bureaucrats
or the pundits
singing their seductions
in my soul;

[nothing can]

not life
(my biggest excuse
for not spending more time
with you);

[nothing can separate]

not time
driving me to distraction,
nor distance
which entices me
with its freedom;

[nothing can separate me]

not even death
sitting on my shoulder
(trying not to be a burden)
everywhere i go;

nothing can keeps us apart,
God of the loving heart,



no thing

not even me.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, July 17, 2005

you thought for a moment,
and creation sprang forth
from your Wisdom;

and now
you know my thoughts:
anger that can
crush another's spirit,
contempt that can
drown a dream,
hatred which could
cripple a lover.

you spoke a Word,
and healing came
into death's shattered shadows;

and now
before i can say a word,
you know:
the loneliness
which stalks the night,
the sin
which corrodes my heart,
the emptiness
which fills my soul.

you know all this,
and yet,
you reach out
to take me by the hand
and to walk with me
that at the last,
i can be with you.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, July 07, 2005

we pray this morning
for people we do not know,
who have suffered terribly
at the hands of terror:
for the injured,
for the dying,
for those who have died;
for the families, and friends,
and neighbors.

We pray this morning,
on this sad morning,
for those who treat the injured:
doctors, nurses,
ambulance drivers, helpers;

for those who search:
for the injured,
for answers,
for hope.

and we pray this morning,
but because you have asked us to,
for those whose lives
are controlled by hate and anger,
not love and hope.

we pray this morning,
searching for answers,
for healing for understanding.

we pray this morning
because that is all we can do.

hear us, O God.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, July 02, 2005

eating lunch alone
at the table by the window,
i saw a homeless man stroll by,
fed on the empty promises
of a forgetful society;

walking alone to the ballpark
for today's game,
i passed a woman
struggling to manuever
her wheelchair onto a sidewalk
which had no ramp;

working at my desk,
while my colleagues
are out celebrating a birthday,
i thought of the little boy
i saw on the bus,
reaching for his father's hand,
which was occupied
with the latest thriller.

Lord who prayed alone
in Gethsemane's garden:

may my loneliness
not be something
i hug to myself,
but the means to reach out
to others more lonely.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 26, 2005

dash a cup of cold water
in my soul, Dearest God:

that i would share
with the hungry of my community
even as i feed my family;

that i would speak
for the voiceless mothers
as freely as i talk
to mine on the phone;

that i would work
for the healing
of the wounded of the world,
as often as i
treat my own pain;

that i would embrace
the lonely
in my neighborhood,
even as my friends
nurture my spirit;

that i would water
the perennials
of love, hope, and grace
you have planted
in my heart,
with my tears.

dash a cup of cold water
in my soul, Dearest God.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

out here on the deck,
in the quiet of the evening,
with the fireflies
flickering through the fading light,
i come to you,
Gentle God.

from another fizzled day,
i would fall into the comfort
of your cradling arms;

by the noisiness of the world,
i would surround myself
with your healing silence;

from burdens
i have carried too far,
i would offer them to you
to throw into your sea
of everlasting peace.

comforted, stilled, lightened,
i go into the house,
to rest in Spirit's embrace.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 19, 2005

i must admit that,
while not bodily,
i know what it is like
to be cast out
by people i thought
cared for me:
ridiculed by a parent,
rejected by a lover,
downsized by an employer,
gossiped about by a friend.

pain's wilderness,
feeding on my bitterness,

until you
bent over to hear
the breaking of my spirit
and my tears
striking the rock garden
planted in my soul

and you
wiped away my anguish
with the Spirit's waters,
lifting me up
holding me tight
in your own
broken heart.


(c)2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

it's easy to see ourselves
in some of the stories Jesus tells,
God of Parables.

The Good Samaritan -
now, that's a role we could
play in your divine drama;

and we are always eager
to see ourselves as the parent
who runs down the road
to embrace the returning child.

But a dirty, homeless beggar
who depends on the scraps
from a table;

a rich person
who fails to see
the hungry at the doorstep?

no, thank you,
we'll just stand on the sideline
and listen to those stories.

after all,
we can't be that poor,
or that uncaring . . .

can we?


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman
(see the story of Lazarus and
the rich man in Luke 16:19-31)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

i long to lay hands
on my loved one
lying in the hospital bed,
and seeing them get up and walk,
healed and restored:
but you call me
to sit by their bed
and hold their hand
during the sleepless night.

i would give almost anything
to make a paste out of dirt and spit,
and to rub it on the eyes
of my neighbor who is sightlyess
and witness her joy
at seeing a sunrise for the first time:
but you call me
to read a book
with a child
who stumbles over the words.

i would like to win the lottery
so i could give the money away
and improve the lives
of all those people
saturated with poverty:
but you call me
to help frame walls
for a Habitat family.

may i take all the ordinary gifts
you have give me,
Exuberant God,
and use them
where you send me.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, June 11, 2005

it's Saturday,
and i need
mow the lawn,
help me to find the time
to lay out on the grass
this evening
and drink in your heavens,
Wondrous God.

it's Saturday,
and i have
to get the car washed.
Help me to find the time
to splash in the pool
with the kids today,
Living Waters.

it's Saturday,
and my 'to do' list
is getting longer.
Help me
to find the time
to be with you,
God of Saturday
and every day of my life.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

fill me . . .
when i am empty,
fill me with your love
that i might be poured out
in service;

fill me . . .
when i am speechless,
fill me with your Word,
that i would be a voice
for the ignored;

fill me . . .
when i am arrogant,
fill me with your humility,
that i might stand
with those taunted by the world;

fill me . . .
when i am selfish,
fill me with your tears,
that i would see
my sister's heart.

fill me . . .

fill me . . .

till i overflow.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 05, 2005

the car is packed,
the paper is stopped,
the door is locked;
the trip we have planned for
after a lifetime of work
stretches out before us
on the horizon:

dare we throw away the map
and go down unknown roads?

the monthly report
was due 5 days ago,
the accounts do not balance,
the boss is standing
over my cubicle, tap-tap-tapping
his fingers on the wall:

dare i get up
and follow that stranger?

My physician says
it's all in my mind,
the experts tell me
there is nothing they can do,
mt friends and family
insist that i learn to live with it:

dare i take heart
and reach in trust?

Is that a double-dare
i hear, Entreating God?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

why is it
we always find money
to rebuild city squares,
but not schools,
God of Wisdom?

how is it
that city councils
somehow find the funds
to keep a business open,
but not a homeless shelter,
Wandering God?

can we ever discover
that it is just as sound an investment
to free people from poverty
as it is to offer free parking downtown,
Suffering God?

when will we learn to pay attention
to your teachings about how we treat
the poor, the widow, the orphan,
Tender Heart?


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 29, 2005

We remember, Griving God,
those, in so many places,
in so many times,
who have died in war;
and we pray
we might honor them
by becoming your children,
makes of peace to our broken world.

We remember, Mothering God,
children who have grown up
around us in our schools,
in our neighborhoods, in our churches,
and who have now gone to war;
and we pray for children
throughout the world
who are orphans
of violence and death.

We remember, God of Truth,
the wars which rage within us,
the aggression we feel towards others,
our unwillingness to forgive,
our desire to foster divisions and discord,
our discomfort in being called
to love our enemies;

and even as we despair,
we pray for new hope,

as we struggle to see you in our world,
we pray for discerning hearts,

as we confront ancient fears,
we pray for new love,

and for your old, old peace
to be born in us anew.

As we remember,
we pray, Healing God.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, May 28, 2005

who neither slumbers
nor sleeps,

give us the night:
when you can heal us,
where you can plant
the seeds of grace in us,
when you can strengthen us,
where you can pour your
healing Spirit
into our wonds.

who neither slumbes
nor sleeps,

awaken us
to greet the dawn with praise,
to rise to reach out to others,
to stretch out your hands
in service to your children.

who neither slumbers
nor sleeps,

be with us this day.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, May 27, 2005

for children
who are orphaned by war,
and the children who go off to war:
hear our prayer, O God;

for children
who are fed junk food,
and children who eat
out of garbage cans:
hear our prayer, O God;

for children
we send off to school,
and for children
we send to prison:
hear our prayer, O God;

for children
who break our hearts,
and for children
whose hearts are lonely,
hear our prayer, O God;

for children
whose laughter lights up a room,
and for children
whose cries go unheard
in the night:
hear our prayer, O God;

O God,
hear our prayers.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 23, 2005

You come in silence, Abba:

not in disappointment,
but that you might be with me
through the sounds of the day:
the demands on my time,
the sirens racing to an emergency,
the news that never seems good.

You come in silence, Word of Life:

not in judgment,
but that i might know your love:
in the smiles of little children,
in the fragrance of the flowers,
in the taste of the bread and wine.

You come in silence, Knowing Sister:

not in tongues of flame,
but in the eyes of my beloved,
in the sudden caress of your presence,
in the gentleness of the summer's night.

I wait for you in silence,
Silent One.

I wait!

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 22, 2005

without you,
Weaver of willows,
Spinner of sunrises,
i would have no place
to put my foot:
stumbling face-first
into the mud puddles
of my mistakes;

without you,
Retriever of the fallen,
Mediator of the sin-splattered,
i would have no place
to put my soul:
adrift on the stormy seas
of seduction,
at the mercy of
bedlam's blows;

without you,
Whisperer of wisdom,
gift-bearing Dove,
i owuld have no place
to put my heart:
watching it shrivel
in despair's
bitter grasp;

in you
i find my place,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed Trinity;
in you.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, May 20, 2005

so much brokenness,
so much division,
so many angry words:

the Koreas cannot resolve
their nuclear issues;
the Senate argues
a 'nuclear option'
regarding debate;
communities divide
over who should have
what entitlements;
couples fight
over children;
even the church
cannot unite itself.

but if we are quiet,
if we listen,
if we put others
before ourselves,
if we put needs
ahead of interests:

you can bridge the brokennes,
you can heal the wornds,
you can unite us.

Loving God,
work in us,
work through us,
work despite us.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, May 19, 2005

as we plant
our gardens this spring,
Creating God,
remind us:

of those seeds of hope
we can plant
in the emptiness
of those who despair;

of those seeds of joy
we can plant
in the shattered hearts
of the grieving;

of the seeds of belief
we can plant
in the lives of our children
who doubt themselves;

of the seeds of grace
you have planted
in each and every
one of us.

Help us to plant
that which will live in others.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

you woke me this morning,
when i wasn't ready,
so i wouldn't miss
the chorus the birds were singing;

you pulled me out of bed,
as reluctant as i was,
so the dog could lead me
down to the lake,
where i was graced
with a smile
from a child
on her way to swimming lessons;

you broke my night's fast,
with the chatter of squirrels,
and the dew-laden lilies.

you have given me
this day,
Marvelous God,
that i might share it with others.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

we spend a lot of time
talking about the things
we cannot do,

remind us, Surprising God
how we are able

to change the life
of a single child
by the gift of an hour
of our time;

to feed a hungry person
simply by
cutting the portions
we eat in half;

to provide a family
with a safe, affordable house
by spending a Saturday
with hammers and nails.

you give us the people to serve,
you fill us with gifts to use,
you provide all the time we need,

God of Grace,
may we stop talking
and start


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, May 12, 2005

did you speak in the thunder
last night,
or in the laughter
of the children
waiting at the corner
for the bus?

did you flash a sign
to me in the lightning,
or illuminate
the shadows of my heart?

did you try to
grab my attention
or simply, quietly
turn my face
to the suffering
in your creation?

do you talk to me,
O God,

and do I listen?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

some are sitting at desks
as i am half-awake;

some are grumbling as
Moms drag them out of bed;

some are shoveling cereal
as the watch their favorite

all are your children,
Mother God:

worried about tests;
afraid of being bullied;
wondering how
the teacher will treat them;
hoping that special someone
will notice them.

be with them
as they go to school
and keep them
in your grace and love.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 09, 2005

if only you had reasted
on Monday, Creator God!

Mondays are so difficult:
the traffic snarls
at my good humor;

the week begins
with anything but rest
the last two days;

the stress i left on my desk
Friday afternoon
is still there
waiting for me to pick it up.

if only . . .

but then Tuesday would be

so help me to welcome this day,
but more importantly,
see you in every moment
of this Monday. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, May 05, 2005

'. . . why do you stand looking
up toward heaven?'

we look for you,
straining our eyes
into the far country:
our vision disrupted
by the least, the lost,
the little, the last
among us;

trying to catch up,
we race after you,
turning the corner
only to find
a homeless family
in our path;

we wander the streets
calling your name
yearning to find you:
but it is only
a single mother who turns
and wearily smiles,
a little girl who pirouettes
and takes our hand,
a street person
who whispers 'hello'

but you are still here, Lord,

help us to see. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman