Thursday, March 12, 2020


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,  
    dysfunctional institutions, 
    nuclear warlords, cyber satans, 
    hack society to pieces?

Not nice!!
Much worse: down right dangerous.
We are terribly confused,
and admitting it or not, 
quite fearful.

What's outside us effects what's inside us.
Our spiritual life spans both.
What does 
     "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,
upwardly mobile,
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 
decidedly otherwise
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 

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 
       and deconstructs
     - 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 

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,

          John Frank


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" .
      spirituality for the street

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             A SOUL SHIFT

          We quiet the mind.

          We still the soul.

          We breath The Spirit.

          We listen.

          We consider.

          We see.

          We accept Soul Shift.

          We thank. 
         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.

           DAY I

We begin.

For sure, 
these really are rough days.
They confuse and frighten.
How do we make our way 
in the midst of Empire,
living under

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
          "as is".
It is open and expansive. 
We have a context 
within and beyond that of 
and its force through

We recognize that we 
are growing into 
fullness and freedom,
however difficult 
our immediate experience of
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..."
                                  John 18:36
The Spirit speaks thus:
    "For this world is not 
     our permanent home,
     we are looking forward 
     to a home yet to come"
                                  Hebrews 13:14

So, a
ll 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.
We are
        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.

                DAY II

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?

             DAY III

Rather than long for an ideal 
that never was, 
nor surrender 
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"
                                    Matthew 10:16

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?

                         DAY IV
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."
                                                                 Romans 12:2

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?

                     DAY V

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 
       completely one..."
                              John 17:21-22

       "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 
        among them..."
                               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?

                         DAY VI

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

Tough talk!
Real Speak!
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
("deny yourself"),
 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?

                   DAY VII

Francis of Assisi lived Jesus.
He helps us live Jesus.
Following Francis' lead, we make 


What was occurring at each station?
      See it.
            Feel it.
                 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?

For example:
       The First Station:
       Jesus is condemned to death.
How do I deal 
with being falsely condemned,
"dissed", discarded?

What people today 
are being condemned 
to some form of death -
    economic, emotional, 
    political, financial, religious -
    by social injustice?

Am I and/or my life style 
at all something of a Pilate in this?


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