Monday, December 21, 2015

longest night

come, God-of-compassion,
   to be with all
   whose loneliness
   makes every night
      longer than the
      one before;
come, God-of-brokenness,
   to mend those
   whose shattered
   lives seem impossible
      to put back together;
come, God-of-hungry-hearts,
   to companion the
   people sitting at
   one-chair tables
      in restaurants overflowing
         with parties, and
      in apartments with
         scarred linoleum floors;
come, God-of-the-gentle-arms
   to cuddle with
   all the children
      who cry themselves
      to sleep;
come, God-of-every-moment,
come, God-of-every-person,
   that we might be
   the people others find
      in every moment
      of their lives.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 18, 2015

poem/prayer for December 20, 2015 (Advent 4 - C)

when the little
         become the
         leaders of the
when the least
         get the most
         of our
when the lost
         find their way
         into our
when the last
         become the
         ones we
then all our
lives will be

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 11, 2015

poem/prayer for December 13, 2015 (Advent 3 - C)

even with

no visible evidence
of hope,
   except for a young woman
   giving birth in the
   shadows of poverty;
no resounding words
of grace,
   except for the teenager
   helping a Syrian child
   learn a new language;
no superhero
coming to our rescue,
   except for the volunteers
   who ignore borders
   to bring healing and kindness;

again and again,
God says,

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

poem/prayer for December 6, 2015 (Advent 2 - C)


that evening
   as he watched
   you pull that
      creased, frayed,
      holey, hand-written
         paper headed
   out of your shirt
   pocket for the
      time, watching your
      brow wrinkle as you
      tried to make out
            the fading words,
   he put a marker
         in his book,
      set it down on the table
      with his glasses on top,
         slipped into his
         jacket, and kissing
   you on the forehead, he
   headed out the door,
      heading to

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

someday soon (Advent 1-C)

the days are surely
   when justice will sprout
   from every tree
      withered by misery;
   when every broken-windowed
      and every dream-littered
         vacant lot
               will be made over
               into havens for
   when our morning
      will provide legs
      for those who have no
               standing in the
               world and our
       cradle lonely children
       in hope's lap;

but until those days,
               let us
   not waste time

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, June 28, 2015

canticle 130

i dangle my toes over
    the curb of my heart,
        my toes washed in
those tears racing
    towards the storm drain,
my keening words
        echoing through the
                empty streets;

if you wrote all my sins
on the blackboard
you would run out of schools,
    but the Spirit stays after class,
    banging dusty death out of the
begging your pardon
for Crossing
        out your work;

more than those
who watch the clock
on the graveyard shift,
    i wait (we wait!) for hope
    to be the lyrics of
        the music of your heart,
more than a rooster
scanning the horizon
for that first glimpse of dawn -

we hope
    for you . . .

(c) Thom M. Shuman (from "Dust Shaker")

Sunday, June 21, 2015

in the still of the night (Mark 4:35-41)

i can cross the t's
and dot every i
    in my doctrinal
    blue book
    during the mid-terms,
        but cast off
        into my dusky life
        as the storm clouds
        gather on the horizon?

i can (intellectually)
affirm certain teachings
    (though that predestination
    thingy has always bugged me,
    but you knew that before the
    foundations of the world
    were poured, right?)
        but calmly, without a whimper,
        resist crawling under the covers
        when lightning strikes
        and thunder rumbles
            through my heart?

i can memorize
all the creeds
and parrot every
confession of faith,
    but keep on steering
    through the waves
    crashing over my soul
        without looking over
        my shoulders to see
            if you have woken up?

what do you think
i am


(c) Thom M. Shuman (from Dust Shaker)

Friday, May 08, 2015

john 15:15

every morning,
      in high school
      and college,
   i put on that outfit
   with the big L stitched
      on it, given to me
      by my classmates;

i wore out
more shoes than
      I can count,
   walking down
   Unrequited Love Lane,
      searching for my
      true heart;

shadowed rooms
were the places
      which were always
      cheapest to rent,
   because they required
   no fancy furniture,
      no extra chairs
      or beds for another;

then you came
      drifting into
      my life,
   looking me in the
        eye, and called me

and the old clothes
   were tossed into the bin,
my life was
and the healing

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, April 30, 2015


there was a time
when i knew
without a doubt
that you were
a white-haired old gent
holding a ruler,
ready to smack my hands
whenever i was bad;

there were years
when i longed for you
to come storming down
to shake up society
and make it more like heaven:
where everyone is loved,
no one is shoved aside,
little children are as valued
as the wisest and richest,
where we go swimming
in that cascading river
called Justice;


i see you for who
you have always been:

Wisdom warning me
to look both ways
as i cross sin's streets;

Compassion whose lap
always has room for me;

who always accepts me;

who walks beside me
every day.

abide in me,
Mothering God,
abide in me.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 08, 2015

finding Jesus

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him. (Mark 1:35-36)

we tiptoe
      behind Jesus,
   waiting for him
   to pause for
         a minute,
      before we gather
   up in the net,
   taking him home
   to pin him to
   the board with
         the rest of the

we hunt for
   knowing that
   when we bag him,
      we can mount
      on the wall
      in the den
   beside all the
   other gifts of
      we destroy;

once our quest for
         is done,
   we cement him
   to a ceramic base,
        polishing him
        to a soft, warm
   and lock him behind
   the glass doors,
   with all the other
   of our achievements.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

of all the words
i might
banter about with you,
it is the questions
that keep trying
to slip past
my guarded lips;

of all the prayers
i might bring to you,
it is the doubts
i am hesitant
to offer.

Astounding One:

open wide the windows
of my doubts,
so faith's fresh breeze
might invigorate my soul;

batter my resistance,
till i take the latch off
the door to my questions
and your Word
can come in
and begin to teach me
all i need to know.
(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 18, 2015

little c

it's not always
      a blinding light
      that drives
         to our knees,
   it is sitting in
   the dark
      a scared child;

it's not always
      a burning bush
      calling us
            to take off
            our shoes
            and listen,
   it is jumping
   into a pool
      of frigid water
      for a charity;

it's not always
      cherubim flitting
      about the rafters
            of a cathedral
         as a mighty
   it is the silence
      as we catch
      the tears of a
             mourning mother
        in our hearts;

not every
    comes with a

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

canticle 72 (Epiphany)

with pockets full of cash,
                        credit cards in hand;
our arms full of $500         
and spices used (only)
                        by the chefs in the finest
we come,
                                                to honor you;

                        you are busy
                        going from back door
                                                to back door
                        of every bakery and
                                    eatery in town,
   gleaning the left-overs
   for your friends at the
you are drenched
                        in sweat from head to
hammering nails,
                  hanging wallboard,
                  installing windows
   at the new house
                        for the family
                                                who spent
                        last night sleeping
                                    in their car;
you are
                        at Potters Field,
            holding services for
                                    all the
                        Jane and
                        John Does
                                    the world
                                    has forgotten to
(c) Thom M. Shuman Dust Shaker (2014)

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Second Sunday after Christmas


she has lost
    of all the generations
    who sat on the floor
         watching her move
         the figures around
              the flannel board
   telling them the stories
       she knows by heart,
   but we remember
      every word,
         her voice filled with love,
         her eyes sparkling with joy,
         her tender touch of hope.
she is always at the door,
   opening it wide and
   giving us a hug,
          steering us toward the
                 kitchen table
          where the cold milk
          and still warm cookies wait,
                and as we settle into
                the feast, she asks,
                     ‘so, tell me, how was today?’

at night, she
      plugs in the light,
     tucks us safe under
            the covers,
     kisses us good night,
        settles herself
        in the rocker
          over in the corner,
    she will keep watch

(c) Thom M. Shuman  from Dust Shaker (2014)