Dear All of Us,
It seems the sky is falling in on us
and the ground is falling out from under us.
We all know/feel the stress
behind those metaphors for our right now:
Just how close and bad
will the coronavirus pandemic be?
Will the financial markets'
wild roller coaster ride
cause the world economy
to go off the rails?
How many more governments
will cave to chaos?
Is a clear and clean election possible?
Will white power skinheads, inept leaders,
nuclear warlords, cyber satans,
hack society to pieces?
Much worse: down right dangerous.
We are terribly confused,
and admitting it or not,
What's outside us effects what's inside us.
Our spiritual life spans both.
"spirituality for the street"
look like lived on these lanes of
danger, fear, confusion?
Let's see if we can get our bearings
and then find a way forward.
We start with our current context,
more exactly, assumptions
about our current context.
Here in the States we seem
to assume that an
"Ozzie and Harriet',
"Leave It To Beaver",
everybody goes to church,
1950's nuclear family,
with a Levitown home,
and a Chevrolet in the driveway
is the norm and
the normal context for living,
and we've got to get back
to something like it asp.
Wrong, painfully wrong.
See David Brooks' masterful piece,
The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake,
in the March issue of The Atlantic.
The nuclear family had a short shelf life.
The 50's quickly fell to pot plus,
racial strife, sexual revolution,
Beats, Hippies, and
declining institutional religion.
The 50's cultural context here in the States
was a blip on the screen of societal living.
Over our history we have lived
and do so now.
That we need to see and deal with
if we are going to even come close
to some sort of for real spiritual life
in the reality and immediacy of this right now.
Yet, we long for that supposed
safety and stability
of the 50"s.
Well, it is the exception that proves
THE RULE OF ROUGH
What's reigned and ruled has been and is:
- war after war
- boom and bust
- immigration and reactive nativism
over and over again
- racial/ethnic injustices
- a host of family constructs
- ridged religious denominationalism
(now crumpling and caving)
- way less than pure and principled politics
- always an underclass and poverty
- planetary rape
- plagues a-plenty
That kind of outside rattles
our outside AND our inside.
How do we live our spiritual lives
so rattled by
THE RULE OF ROUGH?
We can't change it.
We can't wait for an
ideal cultural context.
We can change ourselves
and how we deal with it.
We have no choice
but to live our spiritual lives in
"The same old same old"
dressed up 2020.
The Lenten Retreat
that follows invites a soul sift
to do just that and offers us
a way forward.
We take a section a day
over the next week
for prayerful reflection and resolve.
Praying us all clarity and courage,
Last week we again had
a significant number of new folks
join in with us here online.
Particularly prominent were many
good people from Turkmenistan.
A bright Spring welcome to one and all!!
"frankly speaking" .
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A SOUL SHIFT
We quiet the mind.
We still the soul.
We breath The Spirit.
We accept Soul Shift.
We are clarified and encouraged.
A lot follows here, a week's worth of material for
Lenten prayer pondering.
Rather than overdo,
let's address a portion each day.
these really are rough days.
They confuse and frighten.
How do we make our way
in the midst of Empire,
THE RULE OF ROUGH?
Well, we see that Jesus lived
beautifully, authentically, effectively
under it in a land
subjected to the tyrannical rule
of occupying Rome
and with a compromised religion.
He is our model and hope.
Like him, our context
isn't stalled or stuck on
It is open and expansive.
We have a context
within and beyond that of
and its force through
THE RULE OF ROUGH.
We recognize that we
are growing into
fullness and freedom,
our immediate experience of
THE RULE OF ROUGH
Jesus clarifies and confirms for us.
It is so important and encouraging
to meditate and pray
long and profoundly on that:
"My kingdom is not of this world..."
The Spirit speaks thus:
"For this world is not
our permanent home,
we are looking forward
to a home yet to come"
So, all our eggs are not in the basket
of right now, right here, as is.
We are not stuck nor stymied
by the limit of the moment.
This is not our end point.
Followers of the Way
and very much on our way home.
Let's go back over this
and sit with it all for a quiet bit.
We don't disengage from the now of need
on our way to our "home yet to come".
We're not going it alone.
We do all we can for all we can.
John Wesley speaks our concern and care
as we grow forward despite and beyond
the limits and evils of
Empire's operating mode.
Wesley 's Soul Speak:
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can."
What "good" can I do for others,
be that other people
or other planet places?
What "means" are available to me?
What "ways" can I go about it?
What "places" are open to me?
What "times" do I have?
What "people" are before me?
How "long" and far can I go?
Rather than long for an ideal
that never was,
to desperation at what is,
we need to scope out
our right here, right now, as is,
for what it is, and how we need
to deal with it.
Jesus gives us a heads up here,
a way forward,
and a challenge for sure:
"See, I am sending you out
like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be wise as a serpent and
guileless as a dove"
Time to pause, reflect, and clarify:
What does it mean to be sent?
What are the "wolves"?
What is the threat?
What's it like to be as sheep?
In other words, Jesus tells us:
Be smart, be pure -
real smart, real pure
Do we catch on to what's coming down?
Let's name it, spell it out (be wise).
What does it mean to be pure here?
What's pure like in practice?
The Spirit through Paul puts us right:
"Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern
what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect."
All this is a lot of work for sure.
Let's keep right at it.
Let's not gloss over it .
Let's stop here and detail
what this means in the immediacy
of our right here, right now, as is
- being specific and concrete -
- how am I conformed to this world?
- how can that be transformed?
- what has to be renewed
in my thinking/valuing?
- what kind of testing and discerning
do I need so as to be open to
the will of God?
- am I ready to embrace
the good, the acceptable, the perfect?
THE RULE OF ROUGH
is such that it is essential
for us be in community,
to bond and share and care:
"... they may all be one.
As you, Father, are in me
and I am in you,
may they also be in us, …
so that they may be one,
as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
so that they may become
"Now the whole group
of those who believed
were of one heart and mind...
everything they owned
was held in common...
there was not a needy person
Acts 4: 32-34
In no way can we go it alone,
nor leave others alone.
- how much "oneness" is there
in my spiritual community?
- are we tight, at least a little bit
like the Father and Son?
- are we any where close to being
"completely one" ?
- how can our community
pull together ever more?
- am I/ are we striving to be
"of one heart and mind" ?
- how much am I/are we ready
to hold all things in common?
- am I/are we making sure
there is not a needy one among us?
Thomas Jefferson designed his own Bible.
He simply cut out the parts
of the Bible he didn't like.
In the process, he gutted the whole thing.
That's a "temptation" we all face.
Let's face up to a part of the Bible
we'd just as soon expunge,
avoid, duck, deny, but just can't and won't:
"If any want to be become my followers,
let them deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me."
Mark 8: 34
Am I really ready to "follow the leader"?
What scares me here?
I can only be a follower if I follow.
What's the lead here?
Jesus came to straighten out
what was all mixed up,
what was fouled up,
what was going wrong and wronging.
A lot of good things get all crisscrossed.
That trips things up.
We and our world have a lot of crossed wires
and they short circuit goodness.
Jesus tells us what he's doing
and invites us to hike along.
The only way to deal with
the crisscross in life
is to get off the couch of self indulgence
go hands on with the messed up circuitry
("take up their cross")
and get going to real and right
("and follow me").
What is my cross,
what's at cross purposes
in my value system,
my attitude and approach to life,
mine and that of others ,
be they other people or planet places?
What are ways I cross up goodness
in my choices,
What kind of ways do I
dump my cross of conflicts on others
rather then take my cross
and work it out by following Jesus
and his Way of Real?
What are the crosses in society
that I really need to shoulder?
Francis of Assisi lived Jesus.
He helps us live Jesus.
Following Francis' lead, we make
THE STATION OF THE CROSS
What was occurring at each station?
Hear it tell Love.
Let it have you!!
For each station, what are ways
in my life and our world
that the underlying experience
is current and critical?
The First Station:
Jesus is condemned to death.
How do I deal
with being falsely condemned,
What people today
are being condemned
to some form of death -
political, financial, religious -
by social injustice?
Am I and/or my life style
at all something of a Pilate in this?
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
I. Jesus is condemned to death.
II. Jesus accepts the cross.
III. Jesus falls the first time.
IV. Jesus meets his mother.
V. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross.
VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
VII. Jesus falls the second time.
VIII. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
IX. Jesus falls the third time.
X. Jesus is stripped of his cloths.
XI. Jesus is crucified.
XII. Jesus dies on the cross.
XIII. The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross.
XIV. The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Should you choose to make
The Stations of the Cross
by way of a guided meditation,
take a station a day
for the next two weeks
as presented by
friar followers of Francis.
Their meditations are online at:
Stations of the Cross-Franciscan Friars of the Atonement