Tuesday, December 30, 2008

star of wonder

i wonder . . .

as she cleaned up
the barn,
packing for the trip
(to God-only-knows-where)
was Mary muttering
under her breath,
they couldn't have
brought diapers,
or given us
a crib?'

as he pulled
and begged the donkey
to stand still while
the bags were loaded on,
did Joseph think,
they couldn't figure out
i could have used
a new power drill,
or at least some
of that Persian hardwood
that is rarely in the store?'

when we reach out
to gift those in need,
are we wise enough
to provide what
they really need,
a job,
child care,
a clinic,
a friend?

i wonder . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 29, 2008


we spend the morning
tubing down the brooks
of living water,
wading in the shallows
trying to catch the tadpoles
before they grow up,
watching butterflies
dance from flower
to flower;

after a picnic lunch
and a (very short!) naptime,
you take out your box
of multi-colored chalk,
drawing a hopscotch game
on the path swept smooth
of any rocks that might
bruise our souls,
patching the holes
so we have a smooth
landing place;

and at night,
you pour us each
a cuppa hot chocolate,
gathering us around
your rocking chair,
telling us stories
about the Word who,
like a long-distance runner,
never tires

of us.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 11, 2008

come, anointing oil

when we would place
a foreclosed sign
on the ash-strewn lawn
of disappointed dreams,
you come,
hanging a wreath
strung together
from hope and peace
with a great, glittery
bow of grace;

when we would hand
the outcasts
the cast-offs from
our closets,
you come,
wrapping them in
your handknitted shawl
(from the finest Lambs' wool)
of embracing joy;

when we would
lash the broken
to that never-ending round
of paperwork, regulations
and platitudes,
you come,
slipping the shackles off,
laughing together
as you race to frolic
in the Spirit's sprinklers.

come, grace's fragrance;
come, love's lotion;
come, compassion's comfort;

come, and anoint us with

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 04, 2008

kingdom, come (based on psalm 85:1-2, 8-15)

each morning,
goodness glides across the sky,
warming life's winter,
so that trustworthiness
can blossom in each

in the ancient cathedral,
righteousness and peace
stand before the congregation,
speaking their vows
and exchanging rings,
as God invites,
'you may now
kiss one another';

across the street,
Chesed and 'Emet
have gone into business together,
dressing the windows
and stocking the shelves
for their Advent sale;

and with grace and glory,
the baptizer has cleansed
the River 'avon
of all the impurities dumped
with reckless impunity by sin,
patiently waiting
for the kids to show up
to go for a dip;


(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 27, 2008


when we see you
not only in the twinkle
of a woman's eye
as she lets her grandchildren
lick the icing bowl,
but especially in
a homeless mother
looking at hope's
empty shelves;

when we hear you
not only in the carols
of the children
at evensong,
but especially
in the silent sobs
of the father who
has lost his job;

when we feel you
not just in the embrace
of loved ones
at the airport,
but especially
in the palsied,
paper-thin-skinned hands
of the lonely widow;

when we know you
not just in the assertive platitudes
of those who have never held a doubt,
but especially
in the shattered heart
of the teenager
whose faith has slipped
through her fingers:

we will know
you have come

just as you

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

as for me . . . (joshua 24)

it was not
so long ago
i served other gods:
years ago, it was named 'fear';
last month, i kneeled at greed's altar;
this past week, pride seduced me;
yester (& almost every) day
i followed anger down
that potholed road.

even when
i put them away
in a box marked
'former life,'
they try to
slip their fingers
under the edges
to push the lid off -
or swaddle themselves
in red and green ribbon,
so i will find them
under the tree;

for this day and
(please, Lord!)
all the days to follow,
i will choose
to cross faith's River,
leaving them
on the shoreline
behind me.
(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 30, 2008

apprenticeship (matt. 23:1-12; 1 thess. 2:9-13)

if i preached
what i practice

i could be a huckster
with that little chopper,
dicing my sins
into such tiny pieces,
i do not even taste them
in this stew of my life;

i could manage
a kiosk out at the mall,
dispensing that canny cleanser
that removes all the garbage
i spill on myself
throughout the day;

i could be a street peddlar,
reaching into my cart
and handing out
the burdens i picked up
along the way,
being too busy
(and important!)
to carry them myself.

draw near to me,
that I might
apprentice myself to you,
working night and day
to learn how to craft
a worthy life.
(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

play-acting (matthew 22:15-22)

having taken
the Hypocritic Oath,
i can easily prescribe
a treatment of behavior
for my neighbors,
yet proscribe
the same ethics
from my life;

switching sides
as easily as a
changes his beliefs,
i can make reservations
for a pious table,
and gorge myself
at temptation's buffet;

building my image
as a purveyor of peace,
i can dissemble
with violent thoughts
and the WMDs of words;

hold up that shiny coin
which bears my image
so I can see
who I really am,
and discover
whose I might be . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 09, 2008


taking my fears,
i jury rig them
into a juggernaut
of false security
to protect me
but you would
sweep it away,
that I might dangle my feet
in trust's river;

all my anger
is poured into the mold
of my heart,
where it cools and hardens,
unbreakable in the face
of your compassion
for those i know would use me,
but you would soften it
shaping it into grace
we can all feed on;

promoters of platitudes
and sellers of certainties
become the icons
on which my life focuses,
but you would turn
my stiff neck
so i can see Jesus
walking sin's side streets
looking for me;

with such a
bull market on idols,
what shall i do?

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 02, 2008

persistent, aren't you

confident that the
strategy always works,
we end up tagging on amendments
to your guides for life,
but patiently,
you out-wait us
continuing to reshape us
into your community;

confident that our
pedigree of proud production
will earn us a place
on the kingdom's board of directors,
we habitually clog
the road to your heart,
but grittily,
your grace keeps moving
our stumbling blocks
out of the way;

confident that
what we have learned
(on our own, thank you!)
and taught to others
(you are most welcome!)
is exactly what we (and they) need,
we build a fence walling
ourselves off from your dreams,
but persistently,
you keep sending us servants
(like Theresa, Martin, Roger)
to help us become
better neighbors.

you press on . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

complaint dept

as the doors open
and the folks begin
to take numbers and line up,
he wanders around
kneeling to put a smile
on a cranky child's face;
soothing a mother worried
about catching the bus for work;
leaning over to hear
the frustrated grandfather
on his fifth visit this week.

as the crowd spills out the door,
the metal-shuttered window
flies up with a bang
and the baggy-eyed woman
who has been running
the department forever
(will she ever retire?)
leans her leathery elbows
on the scarred counter
and calls out 'number 1!'
she listens to each one,
and whispers (at the end)
to each to go around the corner . . .

. . . where they find a kiosk
carved from stone
where the perky, young
attendant smiles
and hands out a drink
of crystal clear water,
'here! this is what you've
been looking for all along!'

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

enough for each day (Matt. 20:1-16)

early in the morning,
at the corners
where we stand
with our hands stuffed
in pockets full of pride,
you come looking for us.

at the coffee shops
where we sit grumbling
about how different
our jobs, our relationships, our dreams
would be 'if only . . .'
you come to engage us
in the only Person
we will ever need;

in the late afternoon,
when our eyelids droop
from acedia
and our energy follows us
about being overwhelmed,
you come to give us
a jolt of unfettered grace;

in the evening,
just as we are about to nod off,
you re-run the day for us,
so we can know
(and whisper),
'it was you -
in every moment,
in every place,
in every person -
who got us through
this day.'

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

F word (matthew 18:21-35)

of becoming a
97-pound weakling,
i regularly exercise my
at those who have done
wrong to me . . .
but you would release
my death grip
on pain's weights,
and give me
a Spirit-filled bouquet
of mercy's tender flowers
to hand out
as i walk home.

the line form of
all who can't wait
to wipe bitterness on my soul,
i hesitate to open my heart
to put out the welcome mat,
but you sweep off
the sidewalk
to make a way for them,
leading to the porch
where a pitcher of
cool refreshing leniency
has been poured for them

have patience, Lord,
have patience:
till i discover
is not a word listed
in the world's lexicon
of foolish notions,
but grace gifted
and over
and over

to me.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


purple pills
and online romance;
far-too-casual sex
and binge dating -
is there a more propitious period
to model genuine love?

angry gestures
echoed by hate-filled words;
violence flooding streets,
hate teaching our children -
is there a more apropos age
to feed our enemies with hope,
to offer a cool drink
to those burning with bitterness?

the lost sent around to
the kitchen's backdoor,
the least discounted
by hardened politicians;
the last shoved out of line
by shoppers armed with more credit,
the little squashed underfoot
in the rush to get more -
is there a more timely age
for blessing, not cursing;
for partnering with the oppressed
and not pretending they are not us?

in this stretch of selfishness
and narcissistic narrowness,
in this season of unbridled arrogance
and unchecked injustices -

is there a more opportune
time to simply

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman
(* - according to the NRSV, some ancient
authorities translate 'serve the Lord' in
Romans 12:11 as 'serve the opportune time')

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Q & A (matthew 16:13-20)

when it shows up
on the test
('who do you say I am?')
i quickly flip open the book
and copy out the answers . . .

'Son of the living God'
has become a research paper
(hopefully expanding into
a dissertation)
with experts, writing
in several languages,
quoted to support my view,
but a real Person:
calling me to follow;
willing to open my shut mind;
hoping to send me out
to confront the powers
in my corner of the world?

i have said
so many times
that i have lost count,
but the instances
i have (actually,
willingly, eagerly)
given you control of my life?
even if i include the
thumb on my counting hand,
i still have several fingers
left over . . .

so maybe i need
to close the book,
and open my self
to you.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

no more waiting (Matt. 15:21-28)

she had heard
of those promises made
under starry, sable skies:
blessings flowing
through the lines
of desert wanderers,
which would bring life
to every one
of God's children;

she had heard
of this wandering band
of foolish followers
led by the teacher
who reminded his kin
of those long-ago
spoken covenants;

but she was tired of
hearing only words . . .

even if it was only
she wanted to be fed
from grace's table;
even if it was only
a glance,
she wanted Jesus
to see her as
his sister;
even if it was only
a whisper,
she longed for him
to call her daughter
'my niece'.

the waiting was over . . .

Easter's Child had come
to her heart.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, August 07, 2008

as if (romans 5:9-10; matthew 14:27-31)

as if
it were so simple
to believe:
when i am offered
a smorgasbord of choices
by the culture around me;

as if
it were as elementary
as confessing:
when i am taught
that everything i do
is exactly the right choice
for me!

as if
it were easy
to get out of the boat,
when i rest so
comfortably in the bottom,
rocked to sleep
by apathy's lullabies;

as if
it were a piece of cake
to walk on faith's
crashing waves:
when everyone is
grasping and clutching
to keep me from taking
such a foolish step . . .

if only
i could live
as if . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, July 31, 2008

the crossing (Genesis 32:22-31

laughing and chatting,
piped aboard by
flutes of champagne,
the crowd pours onto
the chartered liner
for the crossing,
tables groaning with
the finest food;
nine-piece band
tuning up for the dancing;
the captain waiting,
tanned, smiling, nodding,
promising a gentle crossing;

down the beach,
i clamber
into the rickety rowboat,
paint faded into a dull gray,
water sloshing in the bottom,
the seat stained and creaky,
the shipshape shaky;

you hand me
the nicked and cracked oars,
and noticing the askance
on my face, whisper,
'look, this way
you get to know the water,
its ebb and flow,
the tides that can
rip out your heart,
the rocks lurking beneath
the smooth glass,
the way the surface can
change in an instant;'

pushing me out into the water,
you continue,

'it's harder, i know . . .
i've done it myself.'

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, July 28, 2008

enough (matthew 14:13-21)

there was more than enough
for Jesus,
hearing the news
that beloved John
had lost his head
to Herod;

there was more than enough
when all those folks,
men, women, children
(the press reported
more than 5000)
crowded after him;

there was more than enough
following each person,
gnawing away at
their hopes and dreams;

there was more than enough
feeding the fears
of his disciples,
whining for Jesus
to send everyone packing;

but what they did have
was more than enough
for Jesus -
their paltry panic
into manna's joy.

when we look into
our picnic basket of scarcity,
'not enough money,
not enough people,
not enough time,
not enough energy,

remind us, Overflowing Grace,
that it is all Jesus

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, July 25, 2008

[nothing] based on Romans 8:37-39

not the death
i fear,
or the one
i long for;

[nothing can]
not the life
i sleepwalk through,
or the one
i fantasize about;

[nothing can separate]
not the hubris
that carries me
to the top of Mt. Arrogance,
or the skeptics
who push me
into the Sea of Doubt;

[nothing can separate me]
not the foolish choices
that tripped me up
or the terrors
i imagine
lurking in tomorrow;

nothing can keep us apart,
not a thing
not even

me . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, July 24, 2008

this or that (matt. 13:44-52)

in this kingdom
where the hopeless
are thrown into
Lake Forgotten Forever,
you cast your net,
drawing them
into your embrace,
cradling them in your heart;

in this kingdom
where folks turn anorexic
gorging on greed,
while the poor scratch
in famine's fallow fields,
you wander in,
offering top dollar
for the pearls of grace
they uncover;

in this kingdom
where hope and faith,
patience and peace
have been sold as showpieces
for fancy museums,
you come,
purchasing them back,
polishing off the dust,
handing them to us
so we can see the reflection

of that kingdom
you forged for us.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, July 21, 2008

you know . . .

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 walked
among death's dark shadows;

and now,
before i can say a word,
you know
the loneliness
stalking my nights;
the sin
corroding my heart;
the emptiness
flooding my soul.

you know

and yet
you reach out
to grasp my hand,
walking with me
so that
at last,
i am finally with you.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Psalm 119:105-112

your grace is a lamp to my feet:
lighting my way
through the shadows
my sin casts;

i was baptized
and affirm those promises:
to honor your tenderness;

i struggle with
my soul's pain:
so fill me with life,
Tender Heart,
for you will

i lift my songs of joy
to you, Hope's Home:
opening my spirit
to your generosity;

holding my life
in my trembling hands,
i remember:
you cradle me
in your love;

the world tries to seduce
me from your kingdom,
but i stick close
to your kindness;

your goodness and mercy
were my gifts at birth:
they continually fill my soul;

i lean my heart
towards yours,
that i might live
your grace
through all eternity.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, June 06, 2008

Double Dare!

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,
my friends and family
insist that I learn to live with it:
dare I take heart
and reach out in trust?

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

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, May 29, 2008



my improvement project
is done!

walls framed
out of my fickle fears,
drywalled with
my dashed dreams;

windows triple-paned
with my desires,
flooring out of
the finest hardheaded lumber,
roofed over
with the wretchedness
of my will:

so why doesn't it
feel like home?

you could hammer
a refuge for me
in your heart;

your grace could
finely sand
my roughened edges;

your tenderness
could warm
my iced-over soul.

when it comes
to building a life
on faith's foundation,
i am an unskilled laborer,
so please,


do it yourself
(for my sake)

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, May 22, 2008

alterations, no charge

last night,
i hung up my worries
in the closet,
hoping the wrinkles
would smoothe out
by the next day;

i put my fears
into the laundry,
so they would
be clean enough
to wear again this week;

i made sure that
pebble called stress
was still in my shoe,
where it has worn
a hole into the heel.

but this morning,
when i opened the closet,
i found
a whole new outfit,
woven out of
Easter lilies
and resurrection's
sweet grass
and sandals
made out of
sparrow's feathers.


i found you
standing there,
a tape measure
around your neck,
chalk in your hand,

saying with a smile,
'try them on . . .
so we can see
if any alterations
are needed'

(Matt. 6:24-34)
(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, May 17, 2008

nothing, but . . .

i have no proof,
but in the carpet
of motley grasses
Dusty rolls on
stretching his back;
in the multicolored
which hide the squirrels
from his gaze,
i discover you,
Imagination beyond compare.

it's not admissible evidence,
but in the daughter
who sits up
all night
while her father
slowly sleeps
into resurrection's arms;
in the mother
comforting her son
who made the last out
in the championship game,
i learn from you,
Compassion's Carpenter.

there is nothing concrete,
but in the mist
sculling over the lake.
in the ripples
which lullaby
the couple in the canoe,
in the breath
which cradles
the gently sailing geese,
i feel you,
Whisperer of life.

no proof,
no admissible evidence,
nothing concrete:

only you
God in Community,
Mystery in One.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, May 10, 2008

pentecost party

(having burnt
a finger
testing the iron)
God begins -
phump, phump, phump -
smoothing out
the wrinkles
on the heirloom
by Hagar and Sarai;

Gabe and Mike
to help)
Jesus fits
the extra boards
into the kitchen table,
then starts
moving the place cards
so folks
have to sit
next to those
they cannot

is putting
the liturgical dancers
through their paces
'flames! flames!
flicker like flames!'
(though not telling
any one
of the last-minute surprise
she will pull);

in an upper room
we wait . . .
turning the invitation
over and over
in our hearts . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, April 24, 2008


(and please don't
take this personally)
there are those times
when i wish i were an
orphan . . .

i could ditch
my Easter outfit
and put on my
all-too-human skin
i could
be cranky
without guilt
belaboring the point;
i might just enjoy
treating people
the way they seem
to enjoy treating me.

But nooooo!
You have to go
and make Spirit
my sibling . . .

and spoil all my sin.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman
(based on John 14:15-21

Saturday, April 19, 2008


is not in your vocabulary,
Embracing Love,
but you speak
so may that gift
swell gently
in our hearts;

is a word you've never
but you sing
for friendships
which last beyond
painful departures;

is an attitude
you do not reflect,
but you
celebrate with us,
even as we let go
of hands that have
encouraged us
through the years;

is not forever,
but your faith
which brought us together
and binds us forever,
is the promise
we will see
even when our

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

indeed (you are!)

indeed (you are!)

when our GPS
shorts out,
you blow the dust
off the map
on our hearts
so we can find
our way

deadened by the
old songs of the old guard,
flooded by the
slick siren calls
of the sellers,
you cradle your hand
and hold it to our ears,
'have a cuppa

as our days dribble on
you hand us
life's pogo stick,
and laugh with
at our foolish attempts
to follow
your lead.

finding every door
shut in our face,
you clean up
the Pilgrim Suite
at Abba's B&B,
where we can stay

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 14, 2008

canticle 23

my steward,
you share with me
all i need;
my babysitter,
you tuck me under
the green quilt
of love;
my teacher,
you lift me up
to drink from
serenity's fountain;
my guide,
you point out
the walking paths
to hope.

when the power fails,
you take my hand,
so i won't trip
over the furniture
the evil one
has moved around
in the darkness.
your heart,
your joy
are a warm shawl
for my cold

you whip up
a gourmet meal
(but ask me
to share the
with those who
never gave me
a crumb)
you pour grace
into my heart
until it overflows,
running down the
kingdom's streets,
so kids can
splash in its

leniency and goodwill
tiptoe after me
wherever i go,
until i make it
where we will live
watching the sunset
that never ends.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 06, 2008

easter eyes

i take
a shortcut just
down this alley,
where anger
and agony come
tagging after me;

i explore the wide avenues
of the world,
whose hope
has been potholed
with despair;

i glance at the map,
and race down
the next street,
only to find sin
standing in every
enticing me with its
fingers sticky
with temptation;

then we turn down
Emmaus Road,
where the aroma
of fresh-baked life
wafts out each window,
and, tapping me on the shoulder,
you shout, 'go!'
and race me

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, March 31, 2008

upper room

from the corners
of our doubts
come the claustrophobic
'it's their fault . . .
. . . how many times . . .?'

in the solace
of the shadows,
fingers stiffen in accusation:
'i wasn't the one . . .
. . .you said you would never . . .!'

churns the room,
as we wait for
hate's hobgoblins
to jump out, yelling,

you come,
parting our tears
to bring us out
of grief's slavery;

putting your finger
in our fissured faith
to make it whole;

sweet, simple
peace . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 23, 2008

what have you done?

what have you done
with my fears?
i left them
on the dresser last night
and now,
they are gone!

what have you done
with my death?
it has suddenly
and i've ransacked
the house trying
to find it!

what have you done
with my name?
it was ground
by the taunters
and tormentors
of Friday . . .

my fears have become
in Eden's garden,
my death
is the tattered shirt
now used
to mop up spills
at the Lamb's Table;

and my name
is that sweet whisper
in my heart,
as you take my hand
to dance the
Resurrection Waltz.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 22, 2008

come Saturday

come Saturday,
Mary, MM, and Sally
were rearranging
the furniture
and cleaning up
the mess
from Friday's wake;

the guys,
who found their loss
no matter how much
they consumed last night,
took double doses
of painkillers
and stumbled back
to bed;

lay in the chill
of the darkness,
his head cradled
in God's lap,
while she stroked
his hair,
humming the
Resurrection Lullaby.

come Saturday.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 21, 2008

come Friday

come Friday
palms were stuffed
into trash cans
for the post-Passover

were strewn
in the path
of the

little kids
stopped their games
of streetball,
pressing their backs
against shadowed

as death
came striding by,
Pilate and Herod;

the silence
from his friends
was deafening.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, March 20, 2008

come Thursday

come Thursday
the powers-that-be
were being themselves,
lining up lackeys
to do their dirty work;
taking money
from petty cash
to pay a bribe
under the table;

Jesus was up early
working out his frustrations
as he kneaded the bread,
letting the grace
rise to a double measure;

decanting the wine,
he giggled
as the rich bouquet
of hope (with just a hint
of promise)
filled the room;

shaking the wrinkles
out of the tablecloth
with the names of all
who had eaten with him
over the years),
he spread it over
the scarred table.

everything was ready

come Thursday.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

come Wednesday

come Wednesday
the world stunk
with the bitterness
of intrigue;
the foul breath
of secret machinations
fogged the alleys
and byways
of the city,
while the silent
walls echoed
the whispers
of the lovers
of shadows.

the spines of the scolds
and dander filled
their mouths
as they took umbrage
with the one
who spread solace
on the soul
of her Beloved,
when they
would have doused him
with the sour perfume
of self-righteousness.

come Wednesday . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

come Tuesday

come Tuesday,
the Morally Superior
was back in business,
selling conspiracies
(buy 1, get 1 free),
fear (one size fills all),
and a variety of nails,

people stood around
with their hearts
in their pockets,
listening to stories
as usual,
missing the punch line;

stubborn-souled Jesus
reminded folks
(once again)
that it is all about
not rules, regs, rituals.

come Tuesday . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, March 17, 2008

come Monday

come Monday,
Jesus groaned
getting out of bed,
trying to stretch out
the stiffness and tenderness
from riding that donkey;

hungry enough
to eat a donkey,
he grumbled under his
when the service
was so lousy at
his usual eatin' place;

wanting to find
some silence and solace
he wandered into
and wailed with grief
when he saw
that it had become
so upmarket
that those
who needed it
were not to be found;

come Monday . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman


is left behind,
hanging in the closet
gathering Adam & Eve's dust,
as you put on
humility's shirt
(stained with grace)
that's been lying
crumpled up on the floor
to be tossed into
baptism's wash;

(who waded
splashing and laughing
in Eden's crystal fountain)
jump feet first
into this messy muck
we call life;

could be dancing
with the stars,
gliding around
Saturn's rings,
but you throw
your leg
over the back
of an animal
(which reminds you
of your disciples);

we welcome
with cheering voices
and nail-choked hearts.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 02, 2008

anointed one

when i would kneel
to be anointed
from the horn of hubris,
you thow mud
in my eyes,
so i can see
those trampled
by a world stampeding
toward success;

when i would
splash on
pomposity's perfume,
you sprinkle me
with the tears of children
cradled in hunger's arms,
cry themselves to

when i would
soak my feet
in the salts
of self-absorption,
you massage them
with the dust
from the souls
of mother's walking
weary's highway
to their third jobs.

anoint me,
Lord God,
that i might serve
my sisters and brothers.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 24, 2008

bucket list

each morning,
i fill my bucket
at the Well of Sin,
and by the time
i get halfway through the day,
i have to turn around
to get more;
will you meet me there
to fill me with salvation?

in the middle of the night,
i find my bucket
from nightmares;
will you meet me
at the Well of Dreams
to tell me every hope
you have for me?

in the silence of my soul,
i discover that bucket
called my heart
is cracked by the heat
of my anger,
is holed by the hurts
of others;

will you meet me
at the Well of Grace,
to refresh me
with healing's
flowing stream,
to fill me
with the nectar
of sweet life?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

piano man

at the bar, where
he's been nursing his wounds
after a long bored meeting,
Nick pushes himself to his feet,
wandering over to
the cigarette-scarred
where Jesus is
slowly plinking
'in the still of the night'

putting a dollar
in the chipped glass,
he begins to chat
with the guy
who can do wonders
with just a few notes;

nodding slowly,
listening carefully
Jesus looks up
and smiles:
'my man,
you need a new dance partner!'
nodding to the corner;

as Nick turns,
he sees Spirit
waiting with open arms

'but, Nick,'
Jesus whispers,
'you gotta let her lead . . .'

as he swings into
a bluesy
'i could have danced
all night'

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 10, 2008

blame game

it's the snake's
you see . . .

that's why
i look at the outcasts
with a chill-carved face,
that's why i offer the poor
soup full of rocks;

it's that snake,
you see . . .

coiling around me,
whispering that i
am on my own,
no One
to guide me;
no One
to follow;

it's him, you see . . .

crafting money, power
success into icons
that slip so comfortably
into my pocket, my dreams,
my life.

in the wilderness
the tester wears my face,
offering me
petty pride,
dubious hopes,
faithless fears.

if only i
blame the snake!

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 03, 2008

transfigure me, please

i'll meet you
on the mountaintop;
but could you come
and find me
in Lost Valley?

i'll build you
a home
in my heart;
but could you visit
that hovel
called hopelessness?

i'll worship you
on Praise Peak;
but could you cherish
me when grief
knocks me down;

i'll bathe myself
in glory's light,
but could you wash away
sin's shadow
which stains me?

i'll promise
not to tell a soul;
but could you whisper
that i am

i'll try to wait,
but when i can't,
could you transform
my fear into faith
and raise me to life?

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

this year

i've gotten rid
of all junk:
chips, chocolate, cola;
the fridge is now stocked
with fruits, veggies, juice -
this is the year
i get into shape!

no more contrived reality,
no more glazed eyes
from watching "Idol" wannabes;
it's public radio and tv,
it's a stack of bios from the library -
this is the year
i form new habits!

but you would
take my twisted logic
about 'who deserves'
and reshape it
into compassion;

you would
take my bitter heart
and fill it with
hope and joy;

you would
take my hurtful ways,
and reform them
into acts of gentleness;

this is the year
you take delight
in making me
a servant!

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 13, 2008


when we dangle
our feet over
the chasm of skepticism,
baptize us
in your spunky spirit:
just a drop;

when we are parched
by our phobias
(petty or prevalant),
quench us
with your brash breath:
just a drop;

when we are withered
by our narrow-mindedness,
refresh us
with your all-embracing ardor:
just a drop;

when we are stained
by vitriol's wildness,
wash us
with your gutsy grace:
just a drop;

a drop here,
a drop there:
a flood of faith
to carry us with you
through the kingdom,
Beloved Brother.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 06, 2008

first star . . .

star light:
when invited to ride
in comfort and style through life,
when tempted to take
the path of least discipleship,
shine on another road
we are called to take -
worn smooth by humility,
bordered by flowers of grace,
winding through the brokenness
of your heart,
taking us to the kingdom.

star bright:
illumine the shadowed corners
of our world,
where poverty rules with
an iron fist;
where injustice paces
the corridors of power;
where need is easily handed
to the lost, the least, the last -
for it is in these places
we are called to walk.

in our grief,
in our sadness,
gleam with hope, with joy,
with peace, with grace:
star light,
star bright,
only star for our life.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman