Thursday, November 14, 2019

PHYSICAL




Dear All of Us,

No sense pussy footing around here.

Let's get right to it.

Forget about playing it safe.

Who cares what people will say!

So, come on.

Let's get physical - real physical 

and right now!




Before you assume this is some sort of sleezy sex solicitation,

or an invite to fight, let's right the record.


T
his is not digital dirty or destructive. 

Just the opposite.

This is about the goodness of the body, the physical, the material.

T
his is about their centrality in our spiritual living

as presence of God, and our delight and care for them.



Sad to say, there's more than a fly 

in the unction of the physical - 

it's an evil trying to pass as a good. 

The spiritual life has always been fouled 

by all sorts of movements claiming 

the body, the physical, matter, are essentially evil.





In the West that has been Gnosticism.

From shortly after the get go of Christianity,

Gnosticism insisted that the matter is evil

and that only spirit is good and will last.

That led to Plan A and Plan B as responses.

They are still around to this day 

dragging people down dead end spiritual streets.





Plan A is to knock the hell out of your body 

by avoiding the material as much as you can,

beating your body to a barely passable pulp.

It means deadening, perverted asceticism.

Plan B is, well, since only the spirit is real and good, 

go ahead and
pig out, indulge fleshly desires with abandon

because matter/the physical really doesn't count.






When I was a young man in the seminary of the 50's, 

it was Plan A all the way.

We were taught that a real spiritual life 

required that you "mortify the senses".

In Latin "mors, mortis" means destruction, death.

So kill off, destroy, limit the five God given connectors 

with God's material creation as much as you can.

Live as if you were a soul without a body.

Only eat for survival, never allow for pleasure.

If you were a hundred percenter, eat your food cold. 

Don't look at an attractive person.

Practice "Modesty of the eyes" and look down at the pavement instead.

Don't ever cut loose and dance yourself crazy with popular music.

Always take cold showers and then put on coarse underware.

Use as few blankets as you can.

Knee by the hour on hard floors. 

Be focused and dedicated to non-physical, 

non-material "spiritual" preoccupations.

Every once in a while there was a "Tu Autum," 

which meant a break for a holiday, or a special occasion -

a concession to human weakness.



Plan B is somewhat a preferment these days.

God is spirit and doesn't sweat the material stuff.

It was created by a false god anyway and won't last.

So, "If it feels good, do it."

Eat and drink until filled past full.

Blitz your mind and spirit with surround sound and distraction.

What harm is a little porn?

Treat yourself to all sorts of comfy clothes, and oh the sneakers!!

The expense be damned.

All these help burn off discomfort so you can pray and meditate better,

so you can "be spiritual."




I thank God for my spiritual director back in those early seminary days.

Father Vivona put the lie to both Plan A and Plan B.

He helped me get focused on the loving God, who is present and busy 

in spirit and matter, who shares with us, connects with us in both.

Yes, we human folk are just starting to grow up and catch on.

We do slip and slide, more commonly labelled weakness and sin.

So, a balanced, temperate discipline is required in our spiritual living.

So also is free, full embrace of God present in all physical/material creation.

Drink wine. Don't get drunk. 

Balanced openness.



Creation is sacred.

It comes from, flows out of God.

T
he Genesis account of matter's creation affirms that.

To damn God given matter is to reject God and God's gifts.

"Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 11:9)

So, we reverence the physical, let it be what it is in its purity -

a presence and connect with the divine.

We love it so much that we will not abuse or debase it.

That means sexual purity and creation care.

That means having the material things we need 

and making sure everyone else has the material things they need.

That means freely, temperately, appreciatively experiencing God 

present in all forms of matter - sunsets to homemade lasagna,

seasides to a tennis match, making love to hymn singing,

gardening to sightseeing, a cozy bed to hiking,

feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger.

To sharpen the senses and to reboot sensitivity to the divine in matter,

we occasionally fast and abstain from material good 

for a positive/purifying bit.



Matter
is indeed central to our spiritual living.

     - That's clear from the blue prints of Genesis.

       "And God saw that it was good."

        We and all about us are a wonderful synthesis 

        of what we call matter and spirit

        (I'd venture they are just different intensities 

        of the same thing), 

        and that by divine design.

      - That's clear from the Incarnation:

        "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." 

        and that by the divine design.

        Jesus is a wonderful
unity of matter/spirit.

       
As an enfleshed spirit he often went off to a place and time for 

        intimate spiritual union with his Abba. 

        He experienced desert temptations and rejected the evil spirit. 

        He was well versed and practiced 

        in the scriptures and spiritual rituals of his people.

        He sure was plenty "spiritual."

        He also ate and drank, worked and went to parties,

        hung out with smelly fishermen, prostitutes, a cheating tax collector,

        disgustingly diseased lepers.

        He fed hungry crowds, made sure a young couple 

        had some really good wine at their wedding feast, cured sickness,

        brought the dead to life, shared meals with others, got tired, 

        experienced horrid bodily pain -

        he sure was plenty "physical." 

       
Jesus was a living integration of God's goodness  in matter/spirit.

May it be so for us.



So, we don't fall for the lie of Gnosticism, whatever form/extreme it takes.

By God's will and gift, like Jesus, 

we are and live a unity of matter/spirit, purely and freely.  



Yes, the physical/material is central to our spiritual lives

as it was for the historical Jesus.

We taste, touch, smell, see, hear God sensually and gratefully.




No sense pussy footing around here.

Let's get right to it.

Forget about playing it safe.

Who cares what people will say!

So, let's get physical - real physical

and right now  - 

just like Jesus!!!.



Thanks for this chance to use this digital matter to be spiritually together here.

                         Holding all of us in

                         The Love Who is God,

                         Matter, Spirit, Mystery,

                              John Frank


                                *****



     A warm hearted welcome to all joining in here for the first time.

Our gathering was blessed this week with a large number of new folks from 

                             Uganda and Indonesia.

                 Delighted to have your good company!!

                         

                          " frankly speaking"

                        spirituality for the street

               - posted online each Thursday evening

                          east coast USA time

                    johnfrankshares.blogspot.com

               - available by automatic email delivery each week

                        sign up top above here.





           Looking forward to all of us being together next week. 

                               See you then.

                            Have a great week!! 


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Thursday, November 7, 2019

MAKING CHANGE




Dear All of Us,

Cashiers have to be good at making change.

Their jobs depend on it.

We have to be good at making change.

Our lives depend on it.

The economy of living

means making all kinds of change,

under all kinds of circumstances, 

all kinds of ways,

all the time.

The bookends of life itself involve vast change -

from womb to world,

from world to the next world.

In between we change everything from 

diapers to tires,

jobs to relationships,

locations to waste lines.

Negotiate a change well and we prosper.

Botch a change and we pay for it.




Our spiritual living is woven into the warp and woof 

of daily life and its incessant change.

Resist it, ignore it, mishandle it

and it's more hell than heaven.

It's freedom and fullness missed.

Go with change and we grow. 

It's like breathing.

We breath in and then we breath out.

Those changes are live giving.

Sitting in a chair they are easy.

Running a marathon they are strenuous.

Praying in an accustomed manner and mode is easy for a while.

Things change when that kind of praying becomes arid and empty.

The change to an all together new form of prayer is hard.

That kind of change means passing through a prayer desert 

to a new oasis of communion.

We either change with the change,

or we become orphans to prayer.



"God is love", and
spiritual living is our love life.

We live the love of God, neighbor and self.

It has all sorts of modes and manners and they all change.




Loving God as a six year old is one thing.

Loving God 

as a conflicted pubescent,

as a partner and parent,

as one experiencing a mid-life drift,

as a mellow fellow of seventy five,

means change upon change.

Our sense of God changes.

Our response to God changes.

Our union with God changes in kind and depth.


So, too, loving neighbor and self.

As we awake to the mystery that we all are 

we accept ourselves and others

in ever changing and expanding degrees of love.

The conservative Baptist liberates to cherish a Moslem neighbor.

The liberal Methodist cherishes the anti-gay without agreeing on gayness.



In the very best sense of it,

our spiritual living is 

having a change of heart 

again and again.

W
e see, sense and love

God, neighbor and self 

in ever changing fullness.

Our spiritual living is 

the adventure of discovering 

the way and wonder of

   MAKING CHANGE.

       As always, 

so good to be with you.

  In God's Dear Love,

      John Frank


        *****


PS:

    Want to share this.

    Comes from an African American Looker Room Buddy at the "Y"

    this morning. Asking him how he was he roared out:

                  " Too blest to be stressed. "

                              Neat!!!



Welcome to all of our first time visitors this week.

Great to have your company.


                           "frankly speaking"

                       spirituality for the street

            is posted online each Thursday evening

                          east coast USA time

                     johnfrankshares.blogspot.com

     and is available for automatic email delivery each Friday

                            Sign Up above.


                       See you next week !!


____________________________________________________________________

        



           































Thursday, October 31, 2019

ONE OF A KIND




Dear All of Us,

So, how do you get along with your relatives - all of them?
Blood and marital relatives for sure. 
Just as much, every other person, place, form of life, element of existence 
in all of creation - relatives all.
We're all related, intimately so - no degrees of separation involved.
Sure, there are all sorts of superficial separations.
At core, though, we are all manifestations of Being.
We are all together rooted in Ultimate Reality.
Put other ways, we are all like rays of the sun,
we are God emanations,
we are family.

Our spiritual living is relational.
We're in this business of existence together.
We're kin. 
And so we are kind, "kin'd" to all of existence.

The word kind speaks soul.
It come from the Old English "cynn", meaning "family".
Be it people, molecules, mountains, music, puppy dogs, 
energy and matter of all forms, we are family, 
we are kin and "kin-ness" is the manner of our spiritual living.

We live in a universe evolving, order coming out of chaos. 
We want to support that, care for it, be "kin"d to it
So we treasure it as we do ourselves, because we are one, we are "kin". 

W
e also live in a time and place painfully fouled by human evil.
Much of society worships in the Temple of Self, 
not in the Sanctuary of Kinship.
Self centered greed manifests itself in materialism funded by capitalism 
strong armed by militarism.
Family is fractured into factions of power gone astray and destructive.
Few have most.
Most have not enough.
Nature is raped.
Soul is stupefied.
Yet, in this mix we are blessed to live a life of kin-ness, of kindness
and so right the wrong.

Now, kindness is a lot more than holding the door for another.
It is living what we are - family, one, together.
It certainly is not some sort of soft, sappy, wimpy "nice nice ".
It is engagement with our engagement to all.
It is connection with our connection to other that isn't fundamentally other, 
with our kin -
people, place, energy.
It is being a being with all beings in Being itself - God.

Whatever the power brokers of this world 
and the politicians who work for them do, 
we get to live a life of relationship, a life of kinship, a life of kindness.

In personal and practical ways let's pray our way through this reflection:
      How aware am I of kinship with:
                    the unborn
              the terminal
              the marginalized
              the needy
              the gifted
              the ordinary
              the uncommon
       How do I  safeguard and nurture nature?
       How do I simplify my living so that others may simply live?
       How do I delight in the beauties of creation, meeting God there in love?
          How do I live kindness with people experiencing and responding to life 
          much differently than I do-culturally, religiously, politically?
       How do I live kindness towards the evil powers of this world, 
       Empire and its chieftains, even those in my family, 
       at work, in my neighborhood, church/synagogue/mosque?
       How do I see, encounter, respond kindly to people, places, 
       music, art, science, literature, energies  - 
       as the starburst of God's creativity, all of us kin?
       How do I get along with my relatives - all of them?
       How "kin'd" am I to us, One in splendid diversity?

       
Our spiritual living is relational.
It's family, kind to kin.
The privilege and joy of it is to live 
the mystery that we all together are 

            ONE OF A KIND

delightfully different.


Thanks for the kindness of your company.

Holding us all together, 

kin that we are, 

In The Love Who Is God,

       John Frank


         *****


                              FOR PONDER AND PRAYER


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                   "Three things in human life are important:

                                 the first is to be kind,

                                 the second is to be kind,

                                 the third is to be kind."

                                       Henry James

        



_____________________________________________________________



                          "Love is patient, Love is kind..."

                                    I Corinthians 13:4 

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                 "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

                                  William Shakespeare

                                  Troilus and Cressida

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                              "...we are all stardust."

                                     Carl Sagan

______________________________________________________________


" For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of 

the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit 

we were all baptized into one body..."

                              I Corinthians 12:12-13

______________________________________________________________


                   "When I was young, I admired cleaver people. 

                    Now that I am old, I admire kind people." 

                           Abraham Joshua Heschel

______________________________________________________________

     
      "Kindness is the language which the deaf hear and the blind see."

                                   Mark Twain

______________________________________________________________

 
   "And this; our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, 

    books in running brooks, sermons in stone, and good in everything"

                               William Shakespeare

                                  As You Like It

______________________________________________________________


"Francis ( of Assisi ) has been described as a nature mystic, one who finds God 

in the vast and beautiful fields of nature. Everything spoke to Francis of the 

infinite love of God. ...In this way, creation became the place to find God, and 

in finding God, he realized his intimate relationship to all of creation... 

For Francis, justice and peace are related to poverty, compassion, 

contemplation and on-going conversion by which we realize our familial bonds 

with all living creatures..."

                                  Francis of Assisi 
                                  nature's mystic

                                     Ilia Delio                                                    

                               The Washington Post

                                  March 20, 2013

_____________________________________________________________



"...that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, 

  that they may be one in us..."

                                      John 2:17

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                                          *****


                 Welcome to all being one with us for the first time.

                             Like at The Olive Garden, 

                       "When you're here you're family." 



                                   "frankly speaking"

            is posted online Thursday evenings, east coast USA time at
                                  johnfrankshares.blogspot.com

            and is available be automatic email on Fridays - sign up above.


                                  Have a great week. 

                Looking forward to being together next week.

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