Saturday, December 29, 2007

for the innocence

for little girls
who play with dolls,
and for those
who are treated
like playthings;

for little boys
who bounce balls
against a wall,
and for those
who curl up fetally,
longing for the comfort
of a womb;

for those
who do not see
another's color,
but a child of God,
and for those
who laugh
at another's accent;

for those who play
in safe backyards,
and for those
whose playground
is potholed by bombs;

for those who pray
before climbing into warm beds,
and for those
whose bed
is a cardboard box;

for those
whose hearts are broken
by the suffering
they see on TV,
and for those
whose lives are shatterd
by indifference;

for all your children,
for the innocents
in their innocence,
we would not only pray,

but act.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

will we . . .

when they went
home that night,
did they hope
the anthem would
be filed away
until three years from now,
or did the tune and words
keep running through their heads
that they couldn't fall asleep?

when they went
back to work
that night,
did they grumble
about the long hours,
the harsh nights,
the low pay with no benefits,
or did they discover
they were now herders
of hope and grace,
a thankless job
no one else would take?

when they snuck
out of Bethlehem,
keeping their faces hooded
from the searching eyes
of the soldiers,
did they forget about the star,
or was its reflection
so strong in their eyes
that it seemed
it was noontime?

when she snuggled
the infant to her breast
as he smuggled them
through the back alleys
to the forgotten road to Egypt,
did they wonder
if they would ever
get back home
or was the promise
so ingrained in their souls
that they knew God
would hear them crying out
for release?

when we go home
this morning,
today, tonight,
from the vigil
at the stable,
will we . . .

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 23, 2007


when we long for
a dreamless sleep,
you are working
the graveyard shift
to bring us life;

when we crave
a peaceful life
(no stress, no frills,
no problems, no fuss, please!)
you are down
in the trenches,
bandaging the world's wounded
with hope,
carrying them
to the kingdom's hospital,
giving us a drink
from your deep reservoir
of reconciliation;

when we think
all that is required of us
is a riskless love,
you grow so reckless
in your passion for us
that the choir director
has to compose new pieces
for the angelic chorus;

when we are convinced
we can easily dismiss you
from our daily routines,
you tap us on the shoulder,
and hand us your newborn grace,
asking us to cradle him
in our hearts.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 16, 2007


praises piggyback
on top of one another
until my soul topples over;
i toast my God,
taking great gulps of joy.
listening with compassion,
She pours a cup of coffee
for the footsore waitress,
softly whistling 'O Holy Night.
like a grandmother to a daughter,
like a mother to a son,
She teaches the cross-stitch pattern
of mercy
to all who want to learn.
after lifting weights
down at Grace's Gym,
God grabs a pushbroom
to whisk out the garbage
of our minds;
tapping the lobbyists
on the shoulder,
and escorting them
to the children's table,
the immigrants are given
the seats at the head table;
God crams a suite of hope
into our unfurnished souls,
and takes the shoes
off the well-heeled
so the outcasts can walk
the streets of the kingdom.
reminiscing at the dinner table
about our grandparents,
God memorizes our faces
so we can fill her dreams at night.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 09, 2007

come . . .

when the world
chops down my dreams
and i am left
with only a cracked
and crumbling stump,
come . . .
to plant that seed of faith
deep within me
that will blossom
when i least expect it;

when sin's friends
strip me naked
of my hopes,
and i stand exposed
and alone
come . . .
with that ensemble
of joy and delight
that will knock
their socks off;

when my fears
prowl around me,
smacking their lips,
ready to pounce
and devour me,
come . . .
to welcome them
(and me!)
at your Table
where we will break
the chains of bitterness
as we feast on your peace.

come . . .
come . . .
come . . .

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 02, 2007

o come

as we spiral
into the season of stress
with all the demands from
our schools, our families,
our communities, (and yes,
our churches!),
how do we slow down
to walk in your light
and sit with the lonely
in the shadows;
to hold the hands of our spouse
and to fill the emptiness
of the homeless;
to sing carols with our children
and whisper hope
to the lost?

in the waterfall of lights,
through the tangle of tinsel,
out of the cacophony of commercials,
help us to see you
making snow angels with the kids;
to watch you handing out dinner invitations
to the lonely, the outcast,
the neighbor with AIDs;
to hear your carol of peace
to a world
which encourages us
to arm ourselves with fear.

with the life that is to be
(for us)
as you become life
once and all
for us.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day One

it seems important
(on most days,
according to TV's talkingheads
and radio's angry voices)
to focus on
what separates us . . .
religious, economic, political -
deep-held 'beliefs' and opinions;

we look at our lifestyle
and then at another's
and shake our heads
in disbelief and wonder
at how 'they'
talk, or act, or think;

in these days
is it any wonder
our world is so polarized,
so divided?

but you promise
there will come a time
when Red-staters and skateboarders
will play together
in your kingdom;
when those who hoard
will be shattered
by generosity;
when predators will stop prowling
and protect the most vulnerable.

in that Day
(your Day!)
O Lord,
we will rejoice!

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 12, 2007


how childish they were,
those early questions:
why is science so hard?
what does that little girl think of me?
will 'it' be under the tree?

then, like life,
the questions got harder:
what will be my major?
will i meet that 'right' person?
what's the new boss like?
will 'it' be in my stocking?

now, no longer a child,
it's just an ever lengthening list
i plant to carry with me
till i meet God:
is there something (anything!)
on the other side of death?
are you as faithful as all
the psalmists, the poets,
the preachers tell us?
will 'it' turn out okay for me?

all my alife
(all my life!!!)
i've been carrying
these (and more)
Wise God.

help me to find
the correct answers -
not just the convenient

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, October 19, 2007


i thought
it would change you,
Listening God,
i would indeed
pray without ceasing,
believing that,
you would respond
as i want.

i thought
it would change
the people i am praying for
(especially those i know
are not praying for me!),
Attentive God,
i would be on my knees

so perhaps,
in those very few moments
i begrudge you,
Persistent God,
you would be
gracious enough
to change


(c) 2004/7 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, October 15, 2007

nine out of ten

nine out of ten hours,
i am hard at work,
chained to my computer,
addicted to meetings,
drowning in expectations -
then you show up,
interrupting my stress,
saying, 'they need us down
at the soup kitchen - let's go!'

nine out of ten minutes
i am thinking about
worries, fears, burdens -
then you grab my hand,
pull me down to my knees
beside you,
saying, 'let's pray for the lost,
the last, the least, the little.'

nine out of ten times
i am patting myself on the back
for all i do for you,
racking up points
on salvation's scoreboard -
then you hand me
a bouquet of grace,
whispering, 'have you stopped
and smelled these lately?'

full of myself,
i am like nine out of ten people -
let this be the one time
and then the next time
and the next . . .

that i turn to you
and say
'Thank You!'

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 07, 2007

by the rivers of babylon

Lord Jesus:
by the park bench
where i sit each morning,
i hang up my giftedness,
my productivity,
my life.
i'm not needed any more;
the company knows best.

out at the mall
where i walk each day,
alone . . .
the laughter,
the frustrations,
the gentle touch,
the days and nights
and months and years
before memories are all
i have left to hold.

in pain
with the pain of othes;

in sorrow
for the loss of my friends;

in anguish
over suffering i dare not touch

my wordless cry
filled with questions
i cannot ask
and horrors
too desolate to understand

is lifted to you
who knew the loneliness of life
and the forsakenness of God.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stranger than fiction

you set us free
from our addictions
to stress, to money,
to work, whatever -
how quickly we forget
and move back into
those old neighborhoods.

you stock our lives
with the Bread
which never goes stale,
handing us that Cup
which always overflows -
how we think
our shelves are always empty;

you polish the Table
tilll it gleams with your grace,
you are busy all night
preparing the feast -
how often there
aren't enough chairs
for everyone;

we expect everyone
to know us by sight
and call us by name -
how we haven't met
those who just moved in;

we assume you
are just like us -
strange, isn't it

how we don't see you
in the stranger?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 01, 2007

no doubt

i have no doubt
i would need to confess
(if i ever did such a thing!)
to murder,
or infidelity,
or robbery -
i wouldn't want to carry
around those boulders
on my back
the rest of my life.

but what about
pebbles in my shoes:
- calling in sick
when i'm sneaking off to the ballpark;
- using creation's gifts
- 'massaging' my taxes;
- using words against my family
i would speak to a stranger?

the size or shape
of my sins,
they are thrown at you,
and the people around me,
Redeemer and Deliverer,

and i must confess them

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 26, 2007


i am only a little boy:
my first day at school
starts tomorrow;
i'll be brave for my Mom,
and not let her see me cry.
but, can i lean on you?

i am only a young girl:
i'll get back on the bus
this week wondering
if the boy who teased me last year
will be in his old seat,
if that group of girls
who giggled behind my back
will still be knotted together.
so, can i lean on you?

i am only a teacher,
not a super hero:
i have good days
and rotten mornings;
i have tears
shimmering in my eyes
behind the happy face
i wear every day.
can i lean on you?

i am only a hypocrite
putting on my clay feet
every morning,
striding forth into the world
bent over by my skeptic spirit,
hoping that today,
i might be bowled over
by faith.

until then,
can i lean on you?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I've Looked at Clouds

she taught your story
to me (and hundreds of other kids),
moving the cloth figures
around the flannelboard landscape,
making Hannah and David,
Jonah and Judith,
Phoebe and Philip
dance before our eyes;

when the widow Gospel
set up house with him,
all the neighbors were surprised,
but then they saw how
anger was remodeled into gentleness,
hollow words were smoothed into promises,
and grudges were set out by the curb
for the garbage collectors to take away;

they were your grace,
that antsy, gabbing, constantly texting
knot of teenagers,
who giggled whil making
ham sandwiches by the dozens,
and then served them
to the street people,
sitting down and sharing their stories,
welcoming the 'least of these'
as if they were family
that hadn't seen in years.

what a crowd!

showr me with their faith,
O God,
that I might be
a witness,

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Teach me

Our Father . . .

when i wander down
despair's streets,
and get mugged
in the alley of arrogance,
build me a home
at the corner
of Grace and Hope
in your kingdom;

your will
is that scratchy hair shirt
hanging deep
in the back of my closet p
nudge me to get it out
and wear it
till it becomes so frayed and soft,
i could never throw it out
in the garbage;

when i hunger
for a hubris-and-selfish sandwich
with all the fixings,
feed me
with the simple crust
of the Bread of Life;

tempted to charge
all my sins
on my revolving account
with the Evil One,
let me cut up my card
with your sheer mercy
and walk around
with pockets full of grace
to share with everyone
i meet.

Our Father . . .

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In The Ditch

a ditch
runs through
my heart,
the ice water
of my propriety
carving it deeper and deeper.

i would fill it in
with some fine topsoil
mixed with fertilizer,
then plant it with
a bright bed
of daffodils, geraniums
and an array of shade trees
that would cause my neighbors
to shake their heads
as they pass by,
remarking on its beauty.

but you . . .

you fill it:
with homeless panhandlers
and struggling single mothers
working three jobs;
with teenagers longing
for self-esteem
and seasoned citizens
hoping to unearth their dreams;
with all those who have been robbed
by a world busy building ditches.

and when i try to slip by,
you reach out and trip me,
knowing that it is in that ditch,
and the next one,
and the one after . . .

i find myself,
my neighbor,


(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Heal Me

heal this reluctant child of yours,
Holy One:

i despise the truth
that pain
is my faithful companion,
but am laoth
to place it in
your scarred hands;

i gnaw on the
in my heart,
its tart taste
tingling my tongue,
so i cannot
savor the sweet
Bread of Life;

the millstones
piled on my shoulders
by the world
break my flesh,
i fear
the peace
you offer me
will shatter
my arrogant spirit.

heal me,
Holy One,
heal me.


(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I am

am i . . .
a magnetic strip
that can be swiped and scanned
so my loyalties and love
can be purchased
like a tank of gas or a jug of milk?

am i . . .
a keyboard on which,
with a few swift strokes,
my personality can be
modified, spell-checked
and saved in a new file?

am i . . .
a bank account
just waiting to be hacked into,
and emptied of
all my dreams, my hopes, my joys?

am i . . .
a vineyard
to be eminently domained
by some developer
who wants to build a skyscraper
on the foundation of my heart?

i could be . . .
cradled in God's justice,
grounded in God's grace,
planted in God's family,
living in God's heart

i belong to

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 10, 2007

tickle me, God

when i am down
to my last few drops
of the oil of obedience,
and distractions hammer
at my door
inviting me to come out
and play:
fill me
with that trust
which has no end;

when the flour of faith
is but a dusting
at the bottom of my heart
and sin's silliness
points me
in the wrong direction:
feed me
with that love
which never wears out;

when i put my feet
under the table
for just a few hands
of hold-em poker with death,
and she moves 'all in':
pull the chair out
from under me
and yank me to my senses;

when i beleive
there are no miracles left
(at least, for me):
tickle me
with your grace
till i ache
with life.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is God Triplets or What?

While the theologians have gathered
for their annual
'Decoding the Mystery of the Trinity"

God is out early every morning,
Grace padding alongside unleashed,
stopping to chat
with the single mother
just getting off the 6 a.m. bus
from her night job;

Jesus is doing
with the "losers"
down at the skate park
and later hanging out
at the video arcade;

Spirit pauses
from wiping the tables
down at the soup kitchen,
stretching her back
till it pops loud enough
to startle Catechism
drowsily purring under the stove;

in the evening,
while they mess up the kitchen
fixing dinner,
they chat about their day,
laughing and shaking their heads
at all they have seen and heard;
then they draw straws
to see whose turn it is
to keep watch during the night,
while the others
stumble off to bed,
yawning and scratching their heads
at the mystery of humanity.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Pentecost I Need

i've got a feeling
that if a violent wind
started battering my soul
i would just rund down
to the basement and hide;
but i could use
a gentle nudge
in the morning
to push me towards those
who need my help.

if flames started
darting down from heaven,
my first impulse would be
to call the fire department;
but my heart,
conditioned by the chill
of cynical callousness,
could use some melting.

if i suddenly
spoke in tongues,
i figure folks would start
slowly edging away from me
(if i didn't run from thm!);
but i could use
a new dictionary
filled only
with the language
of gentleness.

i'm not sure
if I need a day
like Pentecost,
or not;
but i know i need
the Spirit as my companion
the rest of my life.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 20, 2007

alpha and omega and me

i think i've got it!

before anything
(any thing!)
you were;

and when nothing
(no thing!)
you will be.

what i want
to know:

where you there
the other day
when temptation
cracked the combination
to my heart?

will you be
when death taps me
on the shoulder
and grins,
'wanna go for a walk?'

and should i whisper
come soon,
i need you
right now!'

will you?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 13, 2007


she would let me snuggle
up next to her at night
and read me story after story,
until i dozed off
with dreams of joy and hope . . .
and i learned that your lap
is always empty - for me.

she sat me down one day
to remind me that words
people hurled at me
were only that - words.
then she held me tight
to her heart . . .
and i learned about
your Word of love - for me.

she used to get up
and go to work on days
when i would pull the covers
back over my head
and sleep in late . . .
and i learned about
your self-giving grace - for me..

do you know how much
you look like my mother,
God of the Universe?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 07, 2007

Acts 11:17

the homeless, the hungry,
the poor:
always complaining about
their circumstances.
why can't they pull themselves
up by the boot straps like i did?

you hold open the doors,
waying them in, saying,
'welcome! there's room
for all!'

i wish people
would stop whining and crying
because life is so unbearable.

you reach out
and touch their wet cheeks
wth nail-scarred hands.

travelers on a path
of desperation,
searching for One
who has living water
get in my way
as i hurry through life,

you remove the stones
in their path,
including me.

who am i
to get in your way,
my God?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Kittens

you promise
to be with me
when death takes my hand
to lead me into life . . .

but how will i know . . .

when i sneak down
the shadowed alleys,
hoping to find
that quick fix
for my broken dreams. . .

when I look up
from the muddy bottom
of desolation's ditch,
wondering where are my friends
who promised
('we'll be there!')
to pull me out. . .

when my addiction
to every sales pitch
i see and hear
trips me up and i fall into
greed's gutter . . .

. . . that you are with me then
and there?

i only need to look behind me -
and there are Goodness & Mercy,
those two stray kittens who follow me
wherever i go,
wherever i am -
just waiting for me to pick them up
and welcome them
into my heart.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Get Up!

my burdens, struggles,
worries and doubts
lie on the floor
where I scattered them
last night
as i crawled into bed;

most mornings,
with tottering trust,
meager mercy,
and no hope to spare,
when i cast out my life,
it seems
i only pull in
despair's emptiness.

but there you are
down in the kitchen:
flour all over the counters,
dirty pots stacked in the sink,
juice poured,
tea steeped,
hollering up the stairs,
"Get up, lazy faith!
Breakfast's ready!"

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 08, 2007


morning came:
i put the least on Sadness
and took him for a walk in the rain;
i put the kettle on
and watched my hopes steam away;
i stirred my life
and gorged on its bitterness.

morning will come:
the job will shove me
out of bed;
the dirty laundry will trip me
on the way to the shower;
TVs talking heads
will remind me how terrible life is.

but this morning?
this morning:
daffodills spread their petals
for the one who comes weeping
for her Lord;

this morning:
angels laugh
as death is kicked out
of the tomb;

this morning:
Jesus does cartwheels
through the graveyard,
splashing through
the puddles of our tears
and into our hearts.

Alleluia! Amen!

(c) 2004 Thom M. Shuman

Easter Garden

this Word
who squeezed
the vowels of chaos
into this rough world,
who spit
and filled the oceans,
who wrote on the ground,
carving the Grand Canyon;

lift their faces to
this Light,
while grass races
toward it
like a wave;

cup their leaves
to catch
this Water,
clapping with delight
at the rich banquet;

this playful Poet
who gives
whiskers to kittens,
skipping hearts to lambs,
canticles to frogs;

this Breath
blowing into
our grandparents' nostrils;

this One. . .

is the Gardener!

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

what were they doing today?

Cleaning toilets
trying to forget
their dreams
draining away?

maybe Peter wished
he was hom
eating warmed-up
passover food
trying to forge
a way out
of his

did Joanna
have her Saturday list:
groceries to buy,
errands to run,
kids to a soccer game,
a full honey-do jar?

perhaps Herod and Pilate
nursed hangovers
out too late last night
hitting every pub
on the Street of Tears
till they got
thrown out of the
Last Station.

were children
being shushed by
fear-ridden parents,
to stop playing
'soldiers and messiahs?'

did the angels
around heaven
to speak
too loudly
what with the Word
God was doing
that rolled stone?

what were they doing today . . .

before God
yanked the legs
from under

(c) 2001 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, April 06, 2007

where once

feet that danced
through the streets
of Jerusalem
welcoming the Messiah
now softly pad
the back alleys
in search of shadows;

hearts that leapt
with joy at the sight
of David's true son
are thrown out
with Golgotha's

hands that wrapped
a new born son
in bright bands of cloth
now shroud
his broken body
and lay him
in death's manger.

where glad hosannas
rang out
there is now
the silent

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

if he had spoken

no one asked him . . .

not the chief priest
or his bought judges,
fear would
have deafened them;

not the governor,
political options
his decision;

not the mob:
pockets full of nightmares,
stomachs full of poverty,
voices brimming with bile
no goodness or mercy
flowing over
in their cupped hands;

no one asked him
(but don't you think)

Jesus himself
would have said
(maybe he whispered it
to himself):

give them Barabbas!

(c) 2001 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 01, 2007

in the closet . . .

hmmmmm . . .

what shall i wear?

that blouse
has a wrinkle in it;
this tie
still has that gravy stain;
these pants . . .
just a little bit out of style.

what shall i wear?
how should i look?
will people notice
the 'presentation'
i try so hard to make?

but you,

snatching at the chance
to be stained
by our sin;
not minding
the wrinkles
of our aged foolishness;
to bring us
back into fashion
with God . . .

take off
your glory,
hang it in the closet,

and put on

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Of all the people

Rock star,
pro athlete;
of all the people
you could have been,
you chose to become
a servant -

for us.

of all the privileges
you might have grasped,
you chase to take hold
of a cross -

for us.

Los Angelies;
of all the roads
you might have taken,
you chose the one
running through Jerusalem -

for us.

of all the pople
you might have died for -

you did . . .


(c) 2004 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Fragrant Offering

because we have
preserved our joy
in manna jars
for the long winter of despair
and stored them
in the dark corners of our soul,
we have forgotten
its gritty taste;

because we have
put a tight lid
on our grace
and put in the back
of the pantry,
we have forgotten
how it can tickle our noses;

because we are so busy
prattling pious platitudes
about the poor, the least, the lost,
we ignore your words
which anoint them
as your children;

because we have
put up the shutters
and storm doors
to keep your future
from sneaking in,
we have missed
the sweet breeze
carrying your hope
to us;

because we are
who we are,
restore us, O God,
and make us
a fragrant offering
to the world.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, March 19, 2007


hungering for more
that we deserve,
we demand our way
and you give it.

we stuff ourselves
on the empty husks
of pleasure and selfishness,
our shallow souls
hungering for more;

we party our way through life,
awakening in sin's gutters,
our hollow hearts
hungering for more;

stumbling and stammering,
we hunger to find
our way back to you -

you fling wide
heaven's doors,
dragging your stainless robe
through the litter of our sin,
to sweep us up
in your arms
and carry us home

where we will hunger
no more.


(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 11, 2007

in this life

on those days
when i hunger
for some people to be hurt
the way they've hurt me,
i feed eagerly at the banquet
of judgment and retribution
proclaimed by some;
yet you offer me
an abundant feast of what is good:
loading my plate with a mound of mercy,
pouring grace over it
and asking me to pass it on
to my worst enemy.

in those moments
when i am so dehydrated
by not having my desires met
that i drink deeply from the fountains
of self-pity and pettiness,
you turn the handle of hope,
filling that dented cup of compassion
you have had since the beginning of time,
and hand it to me, saying,
'Drink up! It's good for you!"

in this life
where it seems
i never get enough of me,
help me to seek
to get enough of you, O God;

help me.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 04, 2007

yet . . .

in this season of holiness,
in that unholy mess i call life,

i yearn for your face, O God,
but i see only the anger
of those who rush by me;

i hunger for your word of hope,
only to be deafened
by the voices of bitterness
on talk shows;

i ache for your healing touch,
as i am bitterly gripped
by doubt and despair;

i thirst for someone who
will gather up my brokenness
and shape me into your peace,
but find few guides
in this maddened culture.

yet . . .
in the laughter of children,
in the gentle encouragement of a teacher,
in the comforting laps of grandparents,
in the mentoring hope of a teenager . . .

i believe we can see
your goodness.

Blessed are those who come in your name,
O Lord,
even to me.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A More Comfortable Savior

Lent makes me so uncomfortable.

i prefer to remain in my 'zone,'
lounging in my chair;
glued to my plasma screen;
relaxing after a long day;
but you would lead me
into the wilderness

into those uncomfortable places
of tempting,
of power,
of testing.

i would like to ehar words
about success,
and praise,
and feel pats on my back,
but you talk about
you mention the cost
of following God;
you invite me (!)
to shoulder
a cross.

couldn't you have sent
a more comfortable

O God?

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

i stuffed myself
on pancakes and pleasure,
on chocolate and self-indulgence;
empty me
of all those delicious desires
which make my life (and soul)
so heavy;

i put on that funny face
i call 'me'
and danced through the streets
of temptation and selfishness;
draw me
into those quiet places
where you can reshape me
as your child;

i wore a costume
bejeweled with pride's glitter,
and rainbowed with my silly sins;
clothe me
in prayer
and smudge my face
with your heart's tears;

i chased after the world
into death;
lead me into life
this Lent.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 04, 2007

You Talkin' To Me?

you can't be speaking to me . . .
can you?

after all,
i am a selfish person
in a culture which
worships the self;

i haven't felt the brush
of seraphim wings
(though my beloved
did caress my cheek

no hot coals
have purged my soul
(yet, there are
those kisses my children
give me);

and it is easier
to pull in my fears,
clean them up
and store them away
for tomorrow
then to let them down
into the deep waters
of discipleship
and servanthood.

you can't be calling me . . .
can you?

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, January 29, 2007

what to do, what to do?

we don't know
what to do with you,

home from college
on spring break,
you stand up in church
and read the scriptures
with such wonder and awe,
all we can do is nudge one another:
'I had him in kindergarten,
he was always ahead of everyone else!'
'he was always helping the younger kids
when he was in youth group."

We can hardly wait to hear
your sermon . . . until
you start talking about
how we are
to welcome the immigrants,
to open the jail doors,
to give more to those
who will only squander it.
Then we whisper (in a stage voice):
'whose bright idea was it
to ask him to preach?'
'somebody out to throw him out
on his keester!'

and so,
we close our hearts to you,
and let you slip through
our souls,
as you go to fulfill
God's hopes for us,
wishing we would follow you
on that winding road
of grace.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, January 26, 2007

Which three?

"...Now faith, hope and live abide, these three..."

doubt moves in
and props its feet
at the hearth of my soul,
warming them
on the coals of my unbelief;
while faith
rents space
for a few days
in the summers of my life.

despair is the frayed,
soft corduroy jacket
that fits comfortably
on my shoulders
while hope
is a hair shirt
i resist wearing.

impatience is the face
i put on
each morning
in order to greet the world,
while love
is that mask
i wear occasionally,
removing it
when i look in the mirror,
not recognizing myself.

which three will abide in me, O God?

which three?


(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 21, 2007


i can go through
a couple of hankies
at a movie
or while reading
certain books


i cannot remember
when i last
(if ever)
after hearing your words,
God of every language.

am i indifferent
too stressed
exhausted . . .

is my heart hardened,
my soul shriveled;
do my ears recoil
as words such as yours?

is should weep
i don't . . .

May the words of your mouth
shatter the complacency
of my heart,
my Strength,
my Joy,
my Redeemer.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 14, 2007

for my sake

why do i have trouble
telling others about you,
Steadfast Heart?

others call me names,
but you whisper
into my heart
'You are My Delight,"
cradling me in the palm
of your hand
like a precious gift.

running on empty,
the arctic chill of loneliness
cracking my heart,
my soul parched by despair,
you touch my lips
with living water,
resting me in the oasis
of your grace.

you give me gifts
until my life brims over,
and then challenge me:
'now, pour yourself out
for my children.'

for my sake
(and for the sake of others)
i will not keep quiet
but shout to the world:
'you won't believe
what God
is doing . . .!'

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman