Wednesday, December 29, 2010

remnant (Jeremiah 31:7-14

those who cannot
see past the end
of broken promises
will find themselves bumping
into your

those who stumble along,
twisting their ankles in
despair's potholes,
will discover you
on your knees,
a trowel in your hand
smoothing out the cement
into the cracks in their

those who carry one
kid on their
hip, with another
about to burst out,
will be invited
to your play

those who populate
the walls
at proms, and the
young men with two
left feet
will win the ballroom

those who can't carry
a tune
(and haven't for the last
60 years or so)
will record a CD
with Susan Boyle;

those who always
see their glass half
and about to be
knocked over,
will do a cannonball
into your pools of
pure grace.

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 23, 2010

we're innocent! (Matthew 2:13-23

we stroll down the
   shoulder to shoulder
   with the other carolers,
            never noticing the teenagers
            huddling in the shadowed
                        doorways, trying to
                        assemble their broken
               into that puzzle called

we rush to the
polling places,
     eager to vote down levies for
                      disability services,
and 'tsk, tsk' at the stories
      of cutbacks on art/music/drama,
            of scenes of mothers
            waiting hours in emergency
            to get medicine for
                          their babies,
      of veterans living on the streets
               and sleeping under bridges;

we reach for the remote
when the news from the wars
comes on,
      missing the scenes of bomb craters
      that are now playgrounds for
           of families who search
           through the rubble, only
                to find their worst fears,
       of houses of worship
                     which are now

we've lost our innocents
and don't know where to
                find them . . .

do you?

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 16, 2010

mr. sandman (Matthew 1:18-25)

in those soft, hushed
  hours of the night,
     you dream

of no one noticing
as you slip in
  to be one of us,
      and a baby cries;

of all the outsiders
being welcomed
           as if they
     knew the secret
  and a woman
        at a well
     feels a shiver
     run down her soul;

of pantries in soup kitchens
        never being empty,
     of shelters being open
  and a little boy
        hands you his lunchbox
        packed with
              a fish sandwich;

of death
  kneeling in worship,
            offering all that it owns
        back to you,
  and Beloved folds up
  his bedclothes, and walks
      into the morning.

in those soft, hushed
  hours of the night,

you . . .

(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 09, 2010

being (Isaiah 35:1-10)

to those
   whose hair has
      on the back of their
   we are to broadcast
      (gracefully modified)
            seeds of hope.

to everyone
         whose knees
   are swollen and
      from standing at
         two jobs,
   we are to be

to all
      whose hands
   are palsied by
      we are to be
   woven from skeins
      of food,

to anyone
      whose feet are
     from walking the burning
        bricks of foolishness,
   we are to be
      which will easily
           slip on
   for the Way.

(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

frazzled (Matthew 3:1-12)

so frayed, so frazzled,
so harried, so hassled . . .

it's so hard to get prepared:
just when we think every present is bought,
and unexpected one arrives and,
of course, we have to go out
to buy one for that person;
as we gaze at the outside lights
that have been hung and arranged
(so lovingly, so carefully),
a strand goes out,
and so another trip to the store;

we know the way to the malls so well
we could drive there with our eyes closed
(and probably do sometimes!);
the path to the post office is well worn
from all the trips to mail parcels,
to get more stamps.

Christmas Day draws nearer and nearer
and the activity level increases
(as does our stress);
the days grow shorter and shorter
(since we obviously don't have
enough hours in each one
to get everything done!).

so frayed, so frazzled,
so harried, so hassled,
we might not hear the voice
calling to us:
'prepare the way, the Lord is coming!
his path will lead you
to the kingdom.'

open our ears, Lord, open our ears.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

the lamb (Luke 15:3-7)

not moving a muscle,
curling up so tight
    my nose touches my fears,
nestling deep in the
            hollow of
i wait . . .
        if i bleat a
            or make any
    that the mischief
        of peccadilloes
            which has been
    standing quietly at the edge
                will swoop
        down upon me
    and strip my soul

then louder
    than the arrythmia
        of my quaking heart,
i hear the soft, familiar
    tread of your grace,
        and you reach down,
    putting me (phobia frozen)
        over your shoulders
in a fireman's lift
            to carry me

(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

leaning, leaning . . .

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 my 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
slipping into my clay feet each morning
   striding forth into the world
      bent by my skeptic spirit,
   hoping that today
          i might be bowled over by

till then,
   can i lean on you?

(c) 2010  Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

teach us how to pray (Luke 11:1-4)

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 -
        nudge me to get it out
        and wear it till
        it becomes so frayed and soft,
            i could never throw it out
            with 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

    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) Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


    to embrace gracious
            so eagerly,
        that i take on every
                menial task
            on behalf of others;

    to avoid the aisles
     stocked with temptation's
            empty calories,
        but shop in the produce
                section of the kingdom,
            filling my cart
            with all sorts of luscious
        giving them away
        as i walk down the

    to follow you
    down paths overgrown
        with aching loneliness,
            potholed with grief,
                worn smooth where
                those who turned back

you have asked
a hard thing, 
    yet i see your footprints
        stretching out before me,
     and take the first (of what
        will surely be many

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

miraculous (1st Kings 17:8-24)

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

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

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, April 15, 2010

get up! (John 21:1-19; Psalm 30)

my burdens, struggles,
worries and doubts
lie on the floor
    scattered after
    last night's game
        of hide-and-seek;

i had to get up
in the middle of the night,
    changing the sheets
    on the bed, soaked
        from the nocturnal
                of my foolish

most mornings,
    trust hungover the bow,
    mercy hanging in rags,
    hope slipping off the hook,
        i cast out my life,
        only to pull in
            despair's emptiness.

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

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Holy Humor Sunday

in the presence
    of stunning sunsets;

stricken with chronic severity
while surrounded
    by gurgling babies;

frozen-souled when touched
by the warmth of

if we are made in your image,
it's no wonder people think of you
as a grouchy old geezer,
    God of Joy.

       so, breathe on us . . .

fill our souls with:
    laughter which chases away
        the long faces;
    chuckles which wipe frowns
        off our brows;
    great guffaws
        which shatter hardened hearts;

           fill us,
           Breath of sidesplitting shrieks,

so we can celebrate
the last laugh on

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

because (John 12:1-8)

we have preserved our joy
in manna jars
    for the long winter of despair,
    storing them in the dark corners
                of our souls,
        we have forgotten
        its gritty taste;

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

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

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;

we are who we are,
        restore us, Holy Grace,
    and make us 
    a fragrant offering
            to the world.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


we sit waist deep
in the dusty ashes,
scooping our dried-up
dreams in our hands,
letting them sift
through our fingers,
watching them gently
swirl in the air;

you come along,
a bucket of warm hope
in your hands,
sitting down next
to us, you suggest,
'maybe if we add this
to the mess,
we can create something

so veddy proper,
in the top percentile
on the prim-o-meter,
we walk stiff-necked,
straight-backed through life
where you hide around
the corner,
giggling with your lifelong
pal, Spirit, arms full of balloons
bulging with victus aqua,
hoping to deluge us,
we loosen up enough
to lose ourselves
in you.

(c) 2010 Thom M. Shuman