Friday, November 24, 2017


Hi There!

So, when was the last time you had a for real

"Aha" moment?

I mean a "biggie,"  a major leaguer?

You know, all of a sudden it's just there.

You "get it."

In fact, it gets you!

No stress or fuss about it.

The lights go high intensity.

You see the way forward like it's high noon  on a crystal clear day

from the highest peak in the Alps.

When something like that happens in our spiritual life,

out here on the street  of everyday living,

it's a major moment and mover.

It sure was for Buddha, Francis of Assisi, John Wesley,

and numerous other spiritual beacons.

Their "Aha" moments mightily moved them.

They in turn have been moving countless others

spiritually forward through the centuries.

So, too, the great spiritual light and writer Thomas Merton ( 1915-1968 ).

Early on he retreated to a monastery to get away from

the contamination of the world's institutionalized evil.

In the process, though, he got quite disconnected, iced out, from

a warm, loving connection with God present in all of humanity.

He lived the illusion of a separate and superior holiness

in the isolation of his Kentucky cloister.

After years of not leaving the seclusion of the monastery,

he had to travel to Louisville to see a see a medical specialist.

It turned out to be an "outing" in more than a few ways.

At the corner of Fourth and Walnut it happened.

In the middle of a crowd of shoppers out on the street,

he experienced an "Aha" moment that radically changed his life.

It just happened, unbidden and powerfully clear.

He saw deeply into that crowd and fell in love.

He "got it."

Here's how he recounts the epiphany of connecting love.

           In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut,

           in the center of the shopping district,

           I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization

           that I loved all these people,

           that they were mine and I theirs,

           that we could not be alien to one another

           even though we were total strangers.

           It was like waking from a dream of separateness,

           of spurious self-isolation in a special world,

           the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.

           The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream...

           This sense of liberation from an illusory difference

           was such a relief and such a joy to me

           that I almost laughed out loud...

           I have the immense joy of being (hu)man,

           a member of a race in which God...

           became incarnate.

           As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me,

           now that I realize what we all are.

           And if only everybody could realize this!

           But it cannot be explained.

           There is no way of telling people that

           they all are walking around shining like the sun...

           Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts,

           the depths of their hearts

           where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach,

           the core of their reality,

           the person that each one is in God's eyes.

          If only they could all see themselves as they really are.

          If only we could see each other that way all the time.

          There would be no more war,

          no more hared,

          no more cruelty,

          no more greed.
                                     Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

May  the clarity and intensity  of Merton's "Aha" moment

light a way forward for us

out here on the street of our everyday living.

May it help us navigate all the racial strife,  religious/ethic tensions and conflicts,

political and ideological harshness, violence that litters these streets and isolate us

from God present in  all the people out here.

May it thaw isolation and divide,

warm to union.

Hopefully it will be a spark that ignites our own "Aha" moment and motion.

The Meditation Marker that follows has a continuation of the Merton piece.

I'm  surely delighted that all of us are connected and sharing here each week.

Have a great seven days ahead!

Until next week.

Holding each and all in

God's Dear Love,

      John Frank


                                                 MEDITATION MARKER

                                                  At the center of our being

                                                  is a point of nothingness

                                                  which is untouched

                                                  by sin and by illusion,

                                                  a point of pure truth,

                                                  a point or spark

                                                  which belongs entirely to God,

                                                  which is never at our disposal,

                                                  from which God disposes of our lives,

                                                  which is inaccessible

                                                  to the fantasies of our own mind

                                                  or the brutalities of our own will.

                                                  This little point of nothingness

                                                   and of absolute poverty

                                                   is the pure glory of God in us...

                                                   It is like a pure diamond,

                                                   blazing with the invisible light of heaven.

                                                   It is in everybody,

                                                   and if we could see it

                                                   we would see these billions of points of light

                                                   coming together in the face and blaze of a sun

                                                   that would make all the darkness

                                                   and cruelty of life

                                                   vanish completely.

                                                                 Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

                                                                  Doubleday:1966, pages 140 - 142






Friday, November 17, 2017


Hi There !

So, how far out of your way would you go for a really good meal?

Next door, next town, across state lines?

Well, AAA projects that this coming week 48.7 million of us here in the states

will go way out of our way, travel long distances, for a really good meal -

Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.

And a really good meal it is, probably the best of the year,

with all the traditional delights: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce,

salads, vegetables and pies galore,

and all of it  complimented by a rich variety of family favorites.

My father always asked for pearl onions in cream sauce.

I like mashed and buttered rutabaga.

The table overflows.

So do the stories, anecdotes, reminiscences, teasing, laughing.

Life and love are liberally shared gathered around the Thanksgiving table.

Definitely a meal worth going way out of our way for.

( Yes, Miss Caton, - my sixth grade teacher -

I know we're not suppose to end a sentence with a preposition ) .

Actually, Thanksgiving is our

National Holy Communion.

It's a real Eucharist.

In Greek, " eucharistia " means thanksgiving,

and the fourth Thursday of November is rooted in  just that.

Immigrants to these shores 

( there were no travel bans on white, English speaking immigrants at the time )

were  thankful that they had survived their "Passover"

from religious intolerance and persecution in England

to a promised land of faith freedom here.

They shared a meal of thanks with the original Americans,

who had helped them survive the harshness of resettlement.

Both groups had to go way out of their way to accept each other

and then share that first Thanksgiving meal.

There was a wide diversity to traverse culturally, ethnically, and religiously.

The Puritans had to accept rough, non-Christian "primitives."

The native Americans stretched.

They did not require the "foreigners" to abandon their English language,

their distinctive garb (the of hajab of the day ), nor their rather stern version of Christianity.

They had aided the new arrivals in their "resettlement" - no quotas by the way -

and now joined in to share a meal of thanks.

It was indeed a Holy Coming Into Union.

In many ways our Thanksgiving these days is not only rooted in the experience of Passover and

that of the First Americans and Puritans, it is also a participation in the Holy Communion

Jesus shared at his last Passover with his close in spiritual family.

They, too, had gone way out of their way for this really good meal,

traveling all the way to Jerusalem and putting themselves in harm's way in the process.

At their Holy Communion meal they shared all the traditional Jewish Passover foods.

In the midst of the meal, Jesus served up a whole new nourishment,

his very self symbolized in bread and wine shared.

He invited a oneness in who he is and how he is,

one with him and with each other.

He offered his very self, his life and love, in the holiest of communions.

He urged those gathered around the table to stay connected, in union, in communion.

Knowing how undone, disjointed and disconnected we can get,

Jesus made possible a continual reconnect of the disconnected,

a way to again and again get the members reunited, " re - membering "

in the body of his unity -

" Do this in remembrance (re membering) of me" -

get together around the table and share what I give you,

my life and love making a oneness of all, and take it from there.

Happily, Thanksgiving isn't restricted to once a year.
It  is very much an icon, an invitation, to go way out of our way every day

for a really good meal, a great feast of living together

gathered around the table of everyday experience

and sharing  a Holy Coming Into Union with God and each other.

And going out of our way it takes!

It takes  effort to  move away from our comfortable and accustomed ways so as

to meet, accept, embrace, and share with  people of diverse cultures, ethnicities,

persuasions and religions.

A very practical take home here would be for us all to refocus and recommit

to going out of our way to make room for new/different people at the table of our various gatherings:

our neighborhood,  organizations, work place, recreational venues, religious institutions,

opening to a Holy Coming To Union.

I can vouch for how essential this is.

Recently retired, I moved to a townhouse in another state.

Three months into it, my neighbors on either side have said hello.

That's it.

I don't even know their last names.

We're cheek to jowl in this development of hundreds and hundreds,

literally feet apart, yet.

strangers in a crowd.

Not much better is trying to find a church family.

One pastor sent a form letter of welcome to the church

two months after I  went there  for a Sunday service.

In another church that I have attended  a number of times over the past two months,

the pastor never sent any note of welcome, or reached out in any manner,

but I did receive a pledge card ( request for money )!!! 

I kid you not.

After two request to visit, the pastor told me last Sunday, "Not this week. I'm so busy."

I'll let you in on a little secret.

I will not ask again, nor have I pledged.

Fortunately a few of the parishoners have reached out in welcome, a few!.

As a retired pastor, now on the other side of the altar,

I am getting quite an education on why lots of people don't bother with churches.

Quite frankly, too many are mutual  message parlors for insiders only.

They just do not go out of their way to welcome and share with outsiders,

in their church or beyond their church,

much less be in for Holy Coming Into Union.

I have found a great deal more welcome and "Come Union " at the local YMCA.

For sure, let's be intentional and personal, going out of our way to connect and include all.


It's a happiness to welcome  this week new  folks from Nigeria and Cambodia to our

Holy Coming Into Union  right here.

Happy Thanksgiving next Thursday  and every day of the year to one and all.

It's so good to be together here each week.

In God's Dear Love,

     John Frank


Friday, November 10, 2017


Hi There !

So, God forbid that on our death bed

the last thing we can say about our life is

"I didn't do it on purpose,"

except God won't forbid it.

But we can, if we refuse to drift through the years without purpose.

Purpose is the


of our life's GPS.

When it's clear, it's definitive of direction and leads to destination.

Without it we basically spin our wheels, burn rubber, waste gas,and get nowhere fast.

Imagine a cab driver asking

"Where to/"

and we don't have an answer.

We also don't have a ride, much less an arrival.

So it is with life.

To get somewhere we've gotta have somewhere to "get."

Rick Warren sold over thirty million copies of his book

Purpose Driven Life,

mapping out life purpose.

Even with all my spin outs and sins over these many years,

I have been blessed since boyhood with a clear sense of purpose.

The Baltimore Catechism got me off to a good start:

                         "God made  me to know Him, love Him, serve Him in this world,

                          and to be happy with Him forever in the world to come."

John Wesley called it personal holiness and social holiness.

Life purpose means oneness with God and service to his people.

My personal sense of purpose presented in those boyhood days and still this morning as

                         Union with God

                         Bring people and God together.

Whenever I go off the rails, that sense of my purpose always puts me back on the tracks.

Over the years my sense of purpose has been my guidance system.

My sense of union with God has lead me to scripture, meditation, prayer,

spiritual reading and direction, a church community, worship and sacraments, and to spiritual retreats.

My sense of bringing  people and God together has found  a host of modes and endeavors:

pastoring, teaching, counseling, giving spiritual direction, migrant ministry, youth work,

advocating for social and environmental justice, mentoring clergy, men's ministry,

church and academic administration, gay men's ministry, developing small group ministries,

leading retreats. and now in old age, this blog.

Pablo Picasso paints a marvelous picture of meaning and purpose:

                       " The meaning of life is to find your gift.

                          The purpose of life is to give it away."

So it's a "two-fer." - gift and giving.

In other words, what do we have to give?

What's inside us that needs to get out?

What fire burns within us that will warm others?

What's just too good to keep to ourselves?

What do we have that others need?

What's our enthusiasm ( in Theo ism )?

Purpose is where our gift and other's need come together.

For my mother that was to be a nurse and to have us children.

For Edison it meant to experiment and invent.

For Mother Teresa it meant "mothering" people discarded by society.

For George Washington it was to "father" a nation.

For a quiet man I counsel it is to find simple was to cheer people on.

Purpose is not so much career as it is charism.

Charism is a spiritual gift that takes practical form and energizes it.

All this is simply and compellingly Spirit Said:

                            "The gift you have been given give as a gift."

                                                                        1 Peter 4:10

Mark Twain even gets in on all this:

                            " The two most important days of your life are

                               when are born and the day you find out why."

Helen Keller could see better than most:

                             "Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes happiness.

                              It is not attained through self gratification,

                              but through fidelity to purpose."

Gift to give!

Hopefully on our death bed we'll all be able to say of our life,

                              "I did it on purpose!"

                               as we fade to Fullness.

We welcome to our company new friends from Vietnam and South Africa.

Delighted to be together.

As always, thanks to one and all for your good company.

See you next week.

In God's Dear Love,

      John Frank

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Hi There!

So, sure enough, the old bromide  has it right.

The only way to successfully navigate existence is to actually

              " GO WITH THE FLOW."

Push the river of reality and we get swamped.

But, push the river of reality we do -

 just find it hard to trust that the river knows what it's doing.

Well ( to continue the aquatic  metaphor ),

the river is not an "it," but rather is

The Ultimate, Reality,The Lover's Flow,

and this Lover sure knows how to flow-go.

We certainly do well to allow ourselves to be blended  into that life current.

Rather than try ( and surely fail ) to redirect Reality,

we can trust and jump in as The Lover's Flow happily immerse us

in the adventure of its unfolding.

All and every are included:

                                                         - personal relationships

                                                        - state craft

                                                        - striving for social and environmental justice

                                                        - raising children

                                                        - caring for the needy and the elderly

                                                        - discovering vocational currents

                                                        - farming or sell appliances

                                                        - discerning our next soul flow

                                                        - driving a bus

                                                        - creating new technologies

                                                        - developing new curriculum, or a novel recipe for shish kebab

                                                        - submerged in music.

The "rub " in life happens when

                                                       - governments

                                                       - corporations

                                                       - religions

                                                       - families

                                                       - political parties

                                                       - individuals

play god and try to force life's flow in a direction of their insistence.

That causes a "rub' that can rub out life, lots of it -

 psychic, spiritual, emotional,relational, communal, environmental, all the way to planetary.

Why do we rub reality the wrong way?

Arrogance, stupidity, but more often than not, fear,

lack of trust, lack of faith that there is a

Lover flowing to fullness.

That is what spins us into chaos and peril.

Richard Rohr shares:

                                                         RIVER OF LOVE

                        I believe that faith might be precisely an ability to trust the river,

                        to trust the Flow and the Lover. It is a process that we don't have

                        to change, coerce, or improve, and is revealed in the notion of God as a

                        Trinitarian relationship that "flows" unguarded! We only need to allow

                        the Flow to flow - and through us. That takes immense  confidence

                        in God's goodness, especially when we are hurting. Usually,

                        I can feel myself get panicky. I want to make things right, quickly.

                       I lose my ability to be present, and I go into my head and start obsessing.

                       I am by nature goal-oriented, as many of us are,  trying to push

                       or even create the river - the river that is already flowing through me,

                       and in me (John 7:38-39).

So, here goes.

Let's flow,

Flow Full.

It's so good to be able to share together.

Thanks for your company!

See you next week.

In God's Dear Love,

   John Frank