Friday, September 29, 2017


Hi There!

So, no doubt about it.

Out here on the street of everyday living,

one of the greatest boons to our spiritual lives is a friend.

Sure enough and happily, there all sorts and types of friends.

There are friendly people at work, in the neighborhood, down at our  favorite hardware store,

over at church/synagogue/mosque/temple.

They give a lift to our day and way.

As the years widen, we spend generous portions of time, trust and sharing

with more select and closer friends.

Support, enthusiasm and delight are shared.

This friend will stretch to care about our hurts, celebrate our successes,

lend us a lawn mower, drive us to the airport at five in the morning.

A time or few we are surprised and gifted in life with a friend

in the rarest  and fullest way - a Soul Friend.

We may or may not share surface things like musical tastes, tattoos,

political persuasions, religious affiliations, a taste for Lebanon bologna.

What we do share, and where we do meet, is at the core of who we are.

It's a union closer than that of lovers.

Of course, if friend is lover, it's about as good as it gets!!!

Lovers share body, emotion, passion.

Soul Friends share a more naked self.

They bare the mystery they are and merge right there.

They reverence and embrace where each evolves from Infinity

and where each evolves into Infinity.

It's deeper than vast.

A Soul Friend is another self as much as individuality will allow.

Paradoxically, that is at once complete  and distinct.

We'll never figure that out with our head, but the heart sure gets it.

Yes, friends are a boon to our spiritual lives whatever the depth and fullness we enjoy.

Let's take time each day this week to sense, to savor

the Soul Shares about friend that follow in our Meditation Markers.

May that contemplation re-sensitize us, open us yet more to the gift of friend.

Thank you for the goodness of your presence in our sharing here.

See you next week.

As always, holding you in

God's Dear Love,

     John Frank


- "The language of friendship is not words but meaning."

                                                        Henry David Thoreau

- "One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives."


- " As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."


- "Friendship is essentially a partnership."


- "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want

    is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."

                                                          Oprah Winfrey

- "Friendship is a sheltering tree."

                                                          Samuel Taylor Coleridge

- "Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities."

                                                          C. S. Lewis

- " Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend."


-"Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit."

                                                           Khalil Gibran

- " Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness."

                                                            Dag Hammarskjold

- "A friendship like love is warm; a love like friendship, steady."

                                                            Thomas Moore

                                                            A Man for All Seasons

- " As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. now remain in my love...

     Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this,

     that he lay down his life for his friends...I have called you friends,

     for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you...
      Love each other."


                                                            John 15: 9-17

- "Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

    Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."

                                                             Proverbs 27: 5-6


Friday, September 22, 2017


Hi There!

So, I'll bet over these almost  fifty years as a pastor

I have said " Let us pray" at least a million times.

So, "Let us pray."

One million one and counting.

But, wait a minute.

Just what is prayer anyway?

Actually, it's good to check that out once in awhile.

Prayer, like patriotism, friendship, watching TV, driving, is so routine

we take it for granted that we know what we are doing.

Happily, pushing the refresh button every once in awhile does just that -

freshens things up, helps us pray again for the first time.

There are all sorts, levels, and forms of prayer.

Most widely understood, though, prayer is a

                                                        UNITIVE PRESENCE.

God is so present to us

and we are so present to God,

so really and openly and fully so,

that the presence is actually unitive.

The best analogy I know for prayer is the presence, the union of lovers.

Real lovers are so present to each other that they truly are united, they are one.

They can make love so passionately that the house shakes, together go to the supper market,

deal with in-laws, have supper,  and it's all variations of their being so fully present to each other

that they are genuinely united. They experience a

                                                         UNITIVE PRESENCE.

In prayer, it's pretty much  the same.

As with lovers, the modes, manners, and forms vary.

Each, though, is also an "instance," a living out of a presence so total that it is a union.

What's that look like out here on the street of everyday living?

Well, here are a few of numberless "instances" of the presence that is union:

                        - We're stuck in traffic, put on hold,  picked the wrong line at the supermarket.

                           Rather than  waste life being agitated, we use the pause

                            to join God in loving support for

                                                    - lonely, older people

                                                    - sexually abused children

                                                     - unemployed breadwinners

                                                     - soldiers in combat

                                                     - women giving birth.

                           - We savor every morsel of dinner, every sip of wine,

                              sharing the pleasure with our God Lover.

                            - Somebody is bugging the living heck out of us.

                               We and our  Lover God face it together,

                               straight on, and together work out a response.

                             - We see someone who fires up all eight cylinders of our libido.

                                We and our God Lover rejoice in the body beauty and keep going.

                                Together we penetrate all the way in to the one inside that skin and flesh.

                                We hold that one with the "sizzler" body in the purity of God's love.

                                We don't stop off at lust,

                                 but admiringly move right on to love for such a masterpiece..

                                 ( One of my favorite responses at these times is to say to God, " Nice work!!" ).

                               - The two of us put our love to work for those who need help.

                                  We are together as one

                                                             - joining in at Habitat For Humanity

                                                             - becomes a Big Brother/Sister

                                                             - campaigning for environmental justice,

                                                                a reformed penal process,

                                                                a  "living, saving family wage"

                                    - We never shower alone. We use that wonderful experience

                                       with our Lover God to

                                                               - muse, to think things through

                                                               - sing our souls out

                                                               - plan next year's vacation

                                                               - do a replay of the day

                                                               - let all sorts of things have a chance

                                                                 to come upstairs from our subconscious basement

                                         - Sometimes we are chatty

                                                                 - we blow off steam

                                                                 - pour out gratitude

                                                                 - give voice to our enthusiasm

                                                                 - feel free to B&M ( bitch & moan)

                                                                 - ask for help

                                            - Sometimes we just snuggle up

                                              and waft into wordless, imageless oneness,

                                              lost in the Mysterium Tremendum.

We "say our prayers" when we are little kids.

We join heart and voice with others in communal prayer.

As we grow in grace, it's a lot less words

and a lot more quiet togetherness

in how we are and what we do - lovers in

                                                         UNITIVE PRESENCE.

No matter the mode, manner or form,

we get to"pray without easing." ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ).

So, I pray that we all we all pray simply, deeply,

letting ourselves fall into our Lover God

and letting our Lover God fall into us.

As always, it's wonderful to be with you.

I thank you for that.

See you next week.

Holding each and everyone of you "prayerfully" in

God's Dear Love,

     John Frank

Some Meditation Markers:

- " Pray always,"
                       (Ephesians 6:18 )

- " I have come to drag you out of yourself and take you into my heart.

    I have come to bring out the beauty  you never knew you had,

    and lift you like a prayer to the sky."
                                                    ( Rumi )

- "To enter the gaze of the Holy is never to be the same                  
                                                                          ( Richard Foster )

- "Continue in prayer..."
                             ( Colossians 4:2 )

- "The Ego is a veil between humans and God.

    In prayer all are equal."
                                     ( Rumi )

- "For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether."
                                                                                                         ( Gibran )

- "One prays well who is so absorbed with God that one does not know he is praying."
                                                                                                                           (   Francis De Sales )










Friday, September 15, 2017


Hi There!

So, being a "newbie" in town,

I'm "all eyes" when I go out to

 the store, library, MVD, church, gas station,

the "Y," restaurants, and so forth.

I'm learning people and places.

I notice more than I usually do.

So far, very good.

Glad to be here.

One thing that "catches my eye," though,

in my new noticing

is how many people

are significantly overweight, even obese.

And a lot of them are young.

Sadly, thy look like sausages about to burst their skins.

As a nation, 35% of us are obese ( Center for Disease Control and Prevention ).

I say this not to scold, but as a concern.

We are stuffed!!!

And it's not just corporeal.

Every store  I visited is "sound stuffed" with some sort of pulsating (??music??) noise.

And then there's all the absurd "stuff" that crowds the shelves and isles.

Come on, " Pistachio Cranberry Caramel Cucumber Non Fat Turkish Mint Yogurt"!!!


I remember hearing that if the whole world were to have all the stuff we do in the USA,

it would take three planet earths to source it. (Brother James, Taize)

If you have the interest and time, please check out the classic

"The Story of Stuff, " by Annie Leonard on YouTube.

It cleans house on this whole stuff pollution in which we find ourselves.

In restaurants people outdo each other stuffing the air

by scaling up and up decibel levels.

The media peppers us with non stop stuff

that nobody really  needs  to know (or endure).

We feel compelled to stuff our schedules for supposed significance.

Moving has put in bold relief for me how much  "stuff" stuffs my living.

This is embarrassingly difficult, but in the recent move I discovered

that I have new, unopened packs of underwear and a stash of dental floss

that will literally last me the rest of my life!!

Well, I bought them on sale!!

But this boy scout has gone over the top when it comes to "Be Prepared."

Stuff stresses us.

It keeps us superficial.

It prohibits our rootedness from going ever deeper

and our spirits from soring ever higher.

It steals space -

space for noticing, feeling, for texture and touch,

absorption in beauty, hearing the sounds of silence.

We need to downsize to expand.

We need to make sure that stuff doesn't take the place of

experiencing the mystery of The Mystery.

More and more I realize other "stuffers" that stifle spirit.

Fear, pride, self absorption are the worst of the worst killer stuff

that can fill us out of ourselves.

I'm glad I moved.

It's moving me to notice and  simplify,

to free up for the central meaning of living.

Our real life level is to let God make love with us.

"Stuff" clutters the love bed,

gets in the way of free frolic

filling to Oneness.

Here's to an uncluttered, king size love bed!!!!

Given the weather devastation of late,

let's all put some prayer and money

into hurricane relief.

We can skip the "Pistachio Cranberry Caramel Cucumber Non Fat Turkish Mint Yogurt,"

endless packages of underwear and  stashes of dental floss,

even if they are on sale

and we are over zealous boy scouts wanting to "Be Prepared,"

and scads of stuff unneeded so as to help folks needing

to get back on their feet and on their way home.

Catholic Charities, Episcopal Relief and Development,

United Methodist Committee On Relief

are all groups of great people that will make sure our help gets where it needs to go.

A last thought or two.

We need to lighten up to fly.

Notice runners don't wear armor.

So good to be blessed with our little community here.

We are currently people from India, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Mexico a few countries in North Africa

and mostly here in  the USA.

How neat it would be for us all to share our nourishments at a great supper.

If not in time, after time for sure!!

Love to all!!

See you next week.

In God's dear Love,

   John Frank

Friday, September 8, 2017


Hi There!

So, it's pretty noisy and crowded in here.

The projected thirty five minute wait time has already morphed into two hours.

Bet it'll be another hour for sure.

All this to get a driver's license in my new home state.

Oh well, where better than the DMV to muse and meditate on "spirituality for the street."

In so doing, it occurs to me that driving and spirituality are both about making our way in life.

With each we are trying to get somewhere -  Kalamazoo, our mother-in-law's

( what's the hurry? ), work, heaven, tranquility, significance.

In both we make good time, get lost, even spin out.

Of course, all analogies eventually get a flat tire.

So too here because driving is self directed and spirituality is aware and active acceptance.

We can do, have done, will do Americans find it hard to move over and enjoy the ride,

to allow ourselves to be brought along to our destination - our destiny.

There was a charming example of aware and active acceptance in the news the other day.

Over on the other side of the pond, little Prince George

was "brought" to his first day of school by his father.

He was all eyes as he accepted the  welcome of the head mistress

and was lead  into his classroom - aware and active acceptance.

Way back when the only driving was done with a horse, Buddha parked his,

sat down under the Bodhi Tree and came to aware and active acceptance , to Nirvana.

Stop to go!

Wake up to be there!

As a matter of fact, Buddha's name means " awake."

In one way or another, Jesus regularly reminded folks to "Stay awake." (Mark 13:35)

Awake to awareness.

Paradoxically, we already are where we think we are going

(take five on that one!).

We just need to wake up to it, to accept it.

We "be" in "Being."

We're there!

Spirituality is waking up to this, actively accepting the majesty of it ALL.

Years ago I lived as a hermit for six months near the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

One clear, beautiful October  morning I was having coffee at the kitchen table.

My goal was to do some heavy duty spiritual reading and writing ,

to figure my way forward to mystical states of holiness.

Oh boy!!!

I looked out through the open door to the barnyard.

There was a huge maple tree next to the barn.

As the sun began to rise behind it, there was this kaleidoscope of rich, fall colors

gently changing from magnificence to magnificence as the sun continued to rise behind it.

Forget the spiritual reading and writing.

I was drawn into  Mystery.

Half an hour later my coffee was cold, but I had warmed to aware and  active acceptance.

Opps! They just called "C 320."

That's me.

Yep, three hours on the nose!

Hope I get licensed to be on my way.

Even more, I hope I get on my way to where I already am - I am in " I AM.'

I pray it for us all.

Thanks for your good company.

More and more I am "aware" of you and the blessing you are to me.

Will be happy to see you again next week.

In God's Dear Love,

       John Frank

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Hi There!

So, not to be too personal, but are you normal?

According to Sigmund Freud,

if you can love and work you are.

This weekend we, well, I was going to say "celebrate" work, but I'm not to sure about that.

At least a lot of folks get a long weekend.

For all his "kookiness," though, Freud was on to something here.

When all is said and done, the way we live out our lives is mostly through love and work.

I remember as a boy mumbling about my least favorite chore.

My dear, sweet Mother, and she was both, smiled and said:

"Honey, learn to love your work because you will be working the rest of your life."

Looking back as a seventy seven year old, she sure was right.

I'm still working and, for the most part, have loved my work,

and  loved through my work, all these many years.

As a boy I had a paper route, helped (was conscripted!!)

to help my father with his pest control business, and worked in the school cafeteria.

As a teen and young adult I worked on farms, as a laborer in a cemetery,

was a camp counselor, worked as a salesperson in an up scale department store

(that was the exception that proved the rule - I hated the phoniness of it all),

did missionary work in the farm fields of Indiana with migrant workers

(and did I ever love those so hard working, undocumented souls!!).

Once I was ordained and had some graduate degrees in my pocket,

the adult years have meant working as a pastor and educator.

Have loved it!  It's been a real fit!!

Still is, now to a slowed down pace given age, take away stamina, add arthritis.

I've had the gifts, a sense of call and purpose, and a vigorous enthusiasm for my work.

I've sensed I was in on a bit of creation in the company of the Creator.

St. Benedict's motto has been my guidance system:

                                   "Laborare est Orare."

                                   "To Work is to Pray."

I've learned that at its best, work is meant to be "soul - full."

I am blessed, I know it, and I am grateful!!

Whether our work is corporate or corporeal,

may it be cooperative participation in the creative process -

a labor of love.

Enjoy the hot dogs and beer this weekend.

See you next week.

Love to all!

John Frank