Thursday, February 20, 2020

LENT I: SOUL SPRING



Dear All of Us,

So just how hot to trot are you when it comes to Lent?
Let's be honest here.
I mean, come on already!  
            sermons on sin every Sunday, 
            ponying up alms for the poor, 
            fasting,
            fish on Fridays, 
            Stations of the Cross,
            giving up candy, TV, wine or sex 
                          (ok!!, ok!! -  I'll put you down for candy).
A lot of folks see Lent as something of a spiritual boot camp
and would rather just not enlist.
On a preference scale of Christian seasons and experiences 
Lent places dead last.
Definitely not a fun thing!

Yes, but!
How about this?
What do you say we have a go 
at seeing Lent in a new, a renewing way -
seeing it again for the first time?
Something like this.

Lent is similar to Spring Cleaning -
may not be a barrel of fun,
but does it ever spruce things up,
freshens and clears for 
a new season of zesty living - a
               Soul Spring.

Lent begins in the dark chill of winter
and warms to Spring brightness.
In Lent we deal with the "darkeners" of our living,
the decadent, the dreadful, the dirty.
We let them be swept away. 
We open wide the windows of self
and inflows a bright, cleansing, invigorating new atmosphere.
Things sure do Lighten/Brighten Up.

Lent starts with a symbol of death and decay
and concludes with a symbol of fresh new life -
                  ashes to lilies,
     Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, 
       death to unending resurrection.

Lent has a timeline of forty days and forty nights.
As a matter of fact the name Lent 
comes from the root of length (lent-gth).
As the daylight lengthens our living lightens up. 

Lent's timeline of forty days and forty nights
tells of the time it takes to get it right - 
sometimes a long time.
The chosen people sure took a lot of time to get it right
and get to a right good place,
to a land flowing with milk and honey.
The "chosen" chose badly lots of lots.
They got nowhere fast for forty years 
with a ton of frustrating desert dead ends.

I can relate!!
How about you?

Lent's timeline of forty days and nights
tells of the time it takes to prove out positive.
Jesus was out in a difficult desert 
for forty days and nights.
He was tempted not to be who he is,
to trade his promise for a pot of porridge.
He wrestled with the three lures to limit - 
the prevention of 
               pleasure, power, possessions.

I can relate!
How about you? 

We begin Lent with something very much on our minds, literally.
A black cross smudged across our foreheads.
We're marked men and women.
We go public admitting death and decay in us and among us,
signaling failed life as individuals and as a society.
Not nice, but true.

I can relate.
How about you?

We're reminded that we come from dirt and that's where we'll end up.
These earth years are just that - earthy.
           
      "Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return."
                             Genesis 3:19

The question is what are we doing with our earthiness.
We're invited not to let things end there.
            
            "Repent, and believe the good news."
                              Mark 1:15

Reject a dead end by believing the good news.
And believing is not a matter of notional assent.

Believing is a living acceptance of God offered life.

Believing is to "be - life - ing" in Christ:
          
           "For as in Adam - 
            ("Adam" in Hebrew means "dirt") -
            all have died,
            so also in Christ all will be made alive."
                            I Corinthians 15: 22
         
            "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, 
             but it is Christ who lives in me.
             And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God
             who loved me and gave himself for me."
                             Galatians  2:19 -20

I sure want to relate.
How about you?



Hopefully we all can see Lent in a new, refreshing way.
Hopefully we all will admit the dark and embrace the light. 
Hopefully we all will "Repent and "be- life" the good news.

Oh yes,
Rest assured.
I haven't forgotten.
You're definitely down for candy!!!

                                   May this Lent 

                                                        be a

                      a season of freeing and renewing, a

                                 SOUL SPRING.  

                                  John Frank

                                    *****


                SOME LENTEN MEDITATION STARTERS


In a time and place of calm quiet we select a scripture and consider:

                        - what is the revelation here

                        - what does it say in itself

                        - what does it say to my living

                        - what does it say to our shared living as a people




                     " For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus 

                       has set you free from the law of sin and death."

                                                                          Romans 8:2


                     " And the testimony is this, 

                       that God has given us eternal life, 

                       and this life is in His Son."

                                                                          I John 5:11


                     " So then as through one transgression 

                       there resulted condemnation to all men, 

                       even so through one act of righteousness 

                       there resulted justification of life to all men."

                                                                           Romans 5:18

                            Could it be that the transgression
                            represented by Adam and Eve
                            is a symbol/type of all error and sin? 


                      " In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men."

                                                                            John 1:4


                      " So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: 

                        everything old has passed away; 

                        everything has become new."

                                                                        II Corinthians 5: 17 


                      " For sin will have no domination over you,

                        since you are not under law but under grace."

                                                                         Romans 6:14


                      " See, I am making all things new."

                                                                         Revelation 21: 5

                      

                                                            *****


      This past week we had a large number of new folks join in with us.
                        We are blessed and we welcome you!

                               "frankly speaking"
                           spirituality for the street

           Is posted Thursday evening, east coast USA time
                     johnfrankshares.blogspot.com

           Is available by automatic email delivery Fridays
                              Sign Up, top right online format

           Past postings are available at Blog Archive
                       right column online format


                             SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

************************************************************


                                                      


                


  
                     








            
                                                       
















Thursday, February 13, 2020

WAIT

Dear All of Us,
           "Hey, wait a minute" 
often means way more than a minute.
We spend lots and lots of minutes just plain old waiting.
For all the hurry up of our speed crazed society,
we wait, and wait, and wait.

Example.
I just called to cancel a doctor's appointment.
Took ten minutes listening to a mindless machine message 
a dozen times over telling me how important my call was, 
giving five options/prompts 
("Listen carefully as our menu has changed")
with the most God awful music stretching things out between rotations 
until I finally got through to a real live person, 
who then put me on hold for another two minutes.



For all our trimmed up hurry,
we are heavily weighted down with waiting.
You know what?
That might just be a blessing hidden in plain site.


Being forced to wait is a broadside blow to our ego demands:
                   
                     "I'm in control"  

"Things around here need to happen when and as I require" .

Forced waiting unequivocally says to our soul, 
"Not so! You're not in control of everything
and the world doesn't spin to your every touch!!"
We don't like to hear that.
We need to hear that.
Do we hear it?

Put another way, the asceticism of waiting tells us
"You're part of the show, not the whole show.
Hush up, and get in line!"
It invites to a happy humility,
one that frees us from the illusion and burden 
of trying to manage everything and everyone, 
even reality itself.

The asceticism of waiting also tells us 
that we are blessed to be in solidarity 
with all the people, places and parts of earth life.
Creation is working itself out, sometimes with interruptions for sure.
Things are meant to have an organic symmetry and harmony. 
It may take a while,
"So, slow down to catch up with that goodness."

When we are forced to wait in traffic, on line at the DMV, 
are number 255 at the deli counter, 
when the express lube at the car dealer's isn't even close to express, 
we are gifted with bonus moments to muse and meditate. 

When our child is taking a month of moments to finish their homework,
when we just ache for our company to go home so we can get to bed,
when an elderly person just can't wrap up their reminiscences
in under what seems like ten years,
we are gifted with a call to
                              Long Love 
a stretch that stretches soul to a fuller fullness of sharing God's Love.


Hey, thanks for waiting more than a minute for this to finish!!

              Right here waiting with you in life's line,

                              John Frank

                                 *****

Each week we are privileged to have new folks joining us.

Welcome! Have good to be together here at

                         "frankly speaking"
                     spirituality for the street

- it is posted online each Thursday evening, east coast USA time
                        johnfrankshares.blogspot.com
- it is available by automatic email delivery Fridays - sign up above right
- it offers past postings at Blog Archive - bottom right column.

                               SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!!

__________________________________________________________

           




























Thursday, February 6, 2020

DIRECTION


Dear All of Us,

No doubt about it.
It's critical to know where we're going 
and how to get there.

That's more than a matter for our GPS.
It's a matter of navigating life itself.

Let me share a bit about Maurice.
Like too many, Maurice doesn't have a Life GPS.
Sure, he has a fine job, house and car -
health insurance and a pension plan too -
society's markers of success and safety.
They don't get him very far down the road 
of meaning, purpose, and direction though.
Maurice tells me he feels "rudderless" and lonely.

I've known him for yards of years.
He's a top notch guy.
If you met him, guaranteed you'd like him.
He's bright, personable, gifted.
If you had a flat, he'd pull over and help you change the tire.
Yet, he himself feels stuck on the shoulder of significance,
life passing him by, four fold flat.

He's not alone.
Like so many cruising along out here 
on the road of everyday life 
and looking pretty well off
he's empty and lonely on the inside -
directionless - 
spiritually impoverished.

Western culture and religion have caused 
a lot of lonely, lost travelers on life's way.
As a society we're still stuck with the excessive individualism 
of the misnamed Enlightenment and Reformation.
Neither came close to being true to its name or society's need.
While they did much good, they ended up isolating people, 
making  the individual 
the determiner of meaning
and the end point of purpose and satisfaction.
They sidetracked individuals into their own lonely life lanes -
no ride share.
That has keep them from participating 
in life's dynamic, shared flow through,
left them stopped and stuck in self absorption, 
isolated in head and heart. 
Me-ism and capitalism keep the lonely, directionless individual busy 
going round and round on a traffic circle 
that gets you nowhere fast - utterly lost and lonely.

To switch the metaphor, Maurice is burdened with trying to be 
the captain of his own destiny and direction.
He has to plot his own course and power his own sails.
He doesn't know it yet, but in reality he is meant to be part 
of a magnificent fleet, launched and powered by Goodness Itself, 
sailing to an Ocean of Fullness in mutual support and care.
Direction, power, companionship are givens.

To switch the metaphor yet again,
(last time, I promise!) 
Goodness Itself creates us, empowers us 
and invites us to pour those gifts into others - 
to live a Love Flow streaming with others.
Good comes into us and goes through us to others.
We get hot wired with purpose, energy and closeness 
as we companion, support and care for them.
Those others are the people, places and earth elements 
with whom we journey to the Ocean of Fullness.

All this beautifully translates to a life of contemplation, care and sharing.
We're not looking into the mirror of me.
We look outward to the vastscape of other.
We see beauty and we kiss it.
We see pain and we salve it.
We see injustice and we address it.
We see need and we fill it.
We see promise and we support it.
We see offer and we accept it.
We see our giftedness and we share it.
We see the invitation to divine intimacy in all this and we embrace the Embrace.

Recently a
homeless man asked Christine for food money.
She said she couldn't offer that 
(full time grad student on a shoes string budget),
but that she'd be right back.
Christine went up to her apartment and made a great big sandwich,
added in some extras and did go right back to the homeless man
with a bag of goodness to nourish body and spirit.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Allison
found out about an upcoming free lecture by Barbara Brown Taylor
and about Rowen Williams preaching soon at a local church here in Washington.
She took the time to let a like minded friend know about both.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Tom Brier, a gifted, high minded  young attorney I know and greatly admire, 
is campaigning for congress (10th. Congressional District, Pennsylvania)
in hopes of bringing refreshed principle and practice to Washington. 
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Alex, a
single man and construction worker, uses his Saturdays to be 
a Big Brother for a nine year old boy 
craving male mentoring and companionship.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Mona, a
bright, warm hearted woman, stays with her depressed husband 
and brings light to his darkness.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Edger, a
n exhausted parent, goes to the art museum 
and lets the Divine love his spirit to renewed energy 
through the beauty there, the shared gifts of gifted givers.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction.

Goodness Itself - God - flows into and through us to others
in endless wonderful ways.
              That's Love Flow. That's direction. 

So, where do we go, how do we get there?

             We get and go by give.

We get going by directing and giving to others 
what they need from what we have been given.

That means things like:

        - we go where our gifts meet the need of others
        - we raise kids
        - we put our all into our work
        - we encourage
        - we forgive
        - we share in a spiritual community
        - we use our abilities, talents, opportunities for the common good
        - we do that in a warm and vigorous unity 
          with all those with whom we ride share on the roadway of daily life.
    



              
Thanks for this chance to check out together 
              
                 where we're going and how to get there.
                                  
                                   Love Flow 
                         
                      the way to go and get there.

                                   John Frank

                                      *****


   A warm welcome to all joining us this week for the first time here at

                             "frankly speaking"
                         spirituality for the street
                     (johnfrankshares.blogspot.com)

- weekly postings go online Thursday evenings, east coast USA time

- automatic weekly email delivery is available Fridays - sign up above

- past postings are available at Blog Archive - bottom right column here



                              SEE YOU NEXT WEEK

 _______________________________________________________________













Thursday, January 30, 2020

SILENCE



Dear All of us,
                      "Silence is golden"
 and we are decidedly off the gold standard.

When I was young there was a high valuation on silence.  
Silent zones refreshed the landscape of daily life:
library, hospital, church, classroom, museum, doctor's office, symphony hall.
We had silent retreats and quiet hours.
There was the Great Silence in monasteries and seminaries dusk to dawn.
That silence allowed us to hear and honor 
the goodness of the moment and place.

Those silent zones bespoke a specialness, even a sacredness,
that would be missed without the expanse and settledness of silence.
Silence was a "focus fast" - foregoing lesser goods to feast on a greater one.

Silence is a lot more than a matter of decibels.
Silence is a sine qua non of our spiritual living. 
It stills our soul allowing us to be centered in the infinite plentitude that is God.
It distills awareness, purifying, extracting the essential meaning of things,
rendering that essence to its concentrate and allowing our concentration.
It diminishes distraction much as the night sky highlights celestial brilliance.
It frees from surface static.
That static interrupts a deep hearing of the divine.
That static can be auditory, mental, emotional, social, 
occupational, even religious.
It can be a "surround sound" of deafening activity and frenetic rushing 
that blunts depth and fullness, 24/7 news reports
that agitate to disquietude,  as not so well as  obsessive texting, tweeting,
and social media that is not at all social as it isolates and muffles 
a true hearing between us and of God.  


Buddha, the Sufi and Hindu mystics, native religious leaders, Jesus, 
all counsel by example and word to go off by ourselves 
and be still being in Being.
We can do that by going to our man cave, studio, bedrooms, back yard, 
front porch, a church, the park, beach, mountains, woods or farm fields.
There we close off to open up.
We get into comfortable position, limber up body and mind, 
focus on slow, deep breathing in and out.
We surrender our immediacies and controls to the Fullness. 
We let God be God God's way.
We don't fashion the experience.
We experience what God fashions.
At times gently, slowly repeating a sacred word or phrase 
is a help to get started, e.g."God is Love."
At times peacefully pondering a scripture verse or line of poetry, 
gazing at a work of art, or chanting can be ushers to silence.
If we are outdoors we quiet our monkey minds 
to hear the wisdom of the wind,
the divine babble of the brook, 
the Holy Spirit's squeals of joy from the playground.
Sometimes it's best to just sit in a park or walk through the neighborhood
and be lost in being with Being.
Throughout the day it is good every once in a while to just "chill still" 
and be at home in what is.


To support our venture into Divine Silence, 
a bundle of encouragement follows here.
Considering a bit each day
will help quiet us into the "whollyness" of 

               Divine Silence

Action and vigor are part of our encounter with God.
So are silence and stillness.
   
      "Be still and know that I am God"

                Psalm 46:10


Thanks for this chance to hear together 

         The Sounds of Silence.

                John Frank

                   *****


                   SILENCE 

                A TREASURE


Over time we choose one of the sharings offered here.

No rush, no hurry.

We quiet in a still setting of body and spirit.

Sometimes The Spirit speaks through the sharing.

Sometimes we gently reflect on what is the wisdom

at its core?

Sometimes we ponder on just what this sharing means

applied to our unique spiritual lives.

Sometimes we are simply in for a surprise.

                        *****


"God is presence and the grace of silence takes us there."
                                                                                                                                                                                               Bonaventure

"God is the Stillpoint. Silence stills us to that point.'
                                                                           JF

"Listen to silence. It has so much to say."
                                                                           Rumi

"It is better to have a heart without words 

 than words without a heart."
                                                                           Gandhi

The closer you are to the truth, 

the more silent you will become."
                                                                           Naval Ravikant

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, 

 for my hope is from him."
                                                                           Psalm 62:5

"Silence is true wisdom's best reply."
                                                                           Euripides

"I have calmed and quieted my soul, 

 like a weaned child with its mother..."
                                                                           Psalm 131:2

"Silence sure is golden. High yield.

 Don't miss the investment opportunity"
                                                                                                         JF

"Silence isn't empty. It's full of answers."
                                                                           Unknown

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, 

 for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock 

 and my salvation, my fortress; 

 I shall not be shaken." 
                                                                            Psalm 62: 5-6


"The quieter you become the more you will hear."
                                                                          Rumi

"All men's miseries derive from not being able 

 to sit in a quiet room alone."
                                                                          Blasé Pascal

"But the Lord is in his holy temple;

 let all the earth keep silence before him."
                                                                          Habakkuk 2:20

"Now therefore stand still and see the great things 

 that the Lord will do before your eyes."
                                                                          I Samuel 12;16

                                 *****

This past week a significant number
of first time participants joined us. 

Many came from many lands. We are blessed! To you we say

                               WELCOME!!

                                               *****


                           "frankly speaking"
                       spirituality for the street

       -is posted Thursday evenings, east coast USA time
                  johnfrankshares.blogspot.com
       -is available by automatic email each Friday
                        sign up above right
       -past postings are available at Blog Archive
                        bottom right column



                          SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!!

___________________________________________________________





                        

                                                        

                                  
                       
 .