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