Sunday, March 12, 2006


They have come, quite literally, from all over the world: emails, phone calls, messages telling us of prayers being offered for us, for Teddy, for the members of our congregation, for the caregivers, for the family of Joe Beaudoin, for the bailiffs in the court, for the judges and the legal system.

We've heard them, we've read them (over and over in most cases), we've clutched them close to our hearts and wept over the compassion, the love, the encouragement, the grace that is being shared by so many these last few weeks.

While we could never certainly 'rank' the messages from folks as to their 'value' to us (how to you put a value on grace?), one card that has especially touched our hearts came from Emily, a young woman about the same age as Teddy who, though now at college, grew up down the street from us. She wrote of her memories of Teddy when they were little kids, of the joy they shared, of riding bikes together when it seemed the day would never end, of the Halloween flashlight she got at one of Teddy's birthday parties. What a blessing to be reminded of those days.

And then there are the 'green cards' we have received every day since this part of the journey began. Someone who chooses to remain anonymous (but we know lives in Cincinnati according to the postmark) has sent a daily green postcard, with a scripture verse printed on it. We will probably never be able to thank the person, but he/she has sent us daily reminders

- that God continues to whisper hope and peace to us
when we are too mad to talk with God;

- to encourage us when we are standing knee deep in despair;

- to lift us up to God when we are so exhausted
that we can barely get out of bed.

What a marvelous ministry someone has undertaken! What a gift of grace, of hope, of trust, of faith in the future God has in store for us.

That's what comes in the green cards, in the card from Emily, in all the cards, calls, messages, email, hugs, meals, prayers, support which have come our way the last two weeks.

And we give thanks!

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, March 02, 2006


We walked into the lobby of the courthouse,
aware of all the media standing around, aware
of all the people watching. A stranger walked
up to us, and said, 'there are some folks who
would like to meet you, if that's okay.'

And they stepped forward - Jack and Bill,
brothers of the man whose life Teddy is accused
of taking. They could have nodded politely,
shook hands, murmured platitudes, stepped

But God had something else in mind, and
the four of us stood on holy ground.

"We're here to support you," they said.
"We're here because we share pain and loss
with you; we're here to be with you and Teddy."

Grace's tears mingled with ours; Forgiveness
reached out and clasped our hands, drawing
us close; Reconciliation wrapped us in hugs.

These were not those businesslike, formal,
passing the peace in church type hugs we give
(and receive) so often. These were huge, genuine,
from the heart and soul hugs which we all need
and so rarely receive (or give). These were the
seeds of healing that God has planted in our hearts,
and in theirs.

And the Holy Spirit, that Spirit of Peace, that
Spirit of Reconciliation, that Spirit of Grace
and Hope and Forgiveness, wept and bowed
her head, whispering "Amen."

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

even with lots of milk
and extra sugar,
i had trouble downing
my bowl of ashes
this morning;

i vacuum up
as many as i can,
but by the time
i empty the bag,
the ash bunnies
are back under the bed,
snickering at my futile efforts;

and after getting lost
with the Church Dog
this morning,
he simply turned around and followed
ashen footprints
back to our house;

they rest at peace
upon my forehead,
while you take me
into your heart,
rocking me gently
as the celebrant
cradles your Body
and feeds me
on your hope and grace.

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman