Friday, February 23, 2018


Hi There!

Spring wants to spring!

Around here you can almost hear it saying,

          "Enough already with weary winter.

           Let's lighten up, warm up, pop up."

All this in February right here

in  Mid-Atlantic, USA!!

One night it's a freezing fifteen degrees.

The next day it's sweater weather

for us old timers,

and tee shirts for the teens

at seventy two degrees.

It snows vigorously for a few hours and

two days later crocuses are popping up.

Some of the farm fields hereabouts

evidence a hopeful blush of green.

Spring wants to spring.

So do our spirits.

You can almost hear them saying,

            " Enough already with

               weary soul winter.

               Let's lighten up,

               warm up, pop up."

Corporately we call

this Spirit Springing,


It's very name, Lent,

derives from the word "lengthen."

The days lengthen in light,

springing forth from

the dreary dark of winter.

Our spirits want to "spring " as well.

They long for an enlightenment

that thaws through to

 a wonderful warming of soul,

and all sorts of new aliveness

popping up within us.

In church circles,

Lent is a time for


Now there is a word that will put

a winter chill right back into

 most people!!

We'd like to take a pass

on repentance just now, thank you!!

Well, let's give it another look.

Pardon, not my French,

but my Latin.

"Re" means


"Pendere" means

                "to arrange,"

                "to hang."

So, in it's purity

"re - pendere,"


 is a Spring Thing.

It means we do some Spring Cleaning,

indeed clearing.

Repentance is a joyful,

creative, experience actually.

We note disorder and delight

in reordering,

"re - arranging "

for a refreshed living spirit space,

a new season of grace growth.

It's like rehanging ("re-pendere")

pictures, drapes and mirrors

that are off center,

righting things.

It's like rearranging


furniture and fixtures

that clutter -

clearing for a

new spaciousness.

As we Spirit Spring,

in this Lenten season of


this time of rearranging,

let's consider:

       - What thought patterns,

         longings, fantasies do need

         some rearranging

       - how can we clear better space  for

         quiet and meditation

       - what activities and relationships

         are ready for a healthy touch up

       - how use the "light" of soul to join

         up with folks in moving society

         past the dark of dirty, depressing politics,

         of so misnamed "white" nationalism,

         of media manipulation and madness,

         of gun, nuclear, sexual and every other

         hideous monster of violence

       - how to happy up finding ways

         to renew religious groupings,

         family life, friendships,

         social gatherings -

         everything from soccer teams

         to neighborhood picnics

       - how to dust off and polish up

        commitment to

        environmental care

      - while holding on to our day job,

         cutting loose for the joys

         of free, creative frolic -

         go hiking and skinny dipping

         ( o k, wait a bit til the temperature

          warms more for the skinny dipping ),

        write some poetry,

        paint a picture,

        jam with some friends,

        read a really good novel or biography,

        cook a grand  meal

         ( complemented, of course,

         with a worthy wine )

        and have friends over

       - recommit to walking

         with a spiritual companion,

         more formally called

         a spiritual director

       - gather friends for

         a heaven of a good time

         giving a Saturday to

         Habitat for Humanity,

        or taking a bunch of needful kids

        for a day in the country

Please let's just use the above as prompts.

For sure we'll all evolve our own list

as  we delight in the light and freedom of

Spring Cleaning,

Spirit Springing.

This week our sharing here

at "frankly speaking"

widened to Peru.


See you next week.

Lenten On!!

Spirit Springing!!

Holding you in

God's Dear Love,

    John Frank





Friday, February 16, 2018


Hi There !

Back in seminary days,

eons and a very different church ago,

we observed "The Great Silence."

That meant complete silence

from Compline ( night prayer)

until after breakfast the next morning.

We ended our day and began the next in silence.

There was a settling to that stretch of stillness.

It was a counterpoint and complement

to the activity and talk of the day.

These days silence and stillness are suspect,

 socially unacceptable.

Silence is being silenced.

We are being "noised" and distracted to death

by surface static.

That deadening kills off free entry

to our Center, Our Still Point.

Our spirits are denied

the spaciousness of still silence,

where we hear more than words.

Still silence allows us to hear

"The Sounds of Silence,"

the deep down sounds of the sacred.

Back in those seminary days,

there were select periods of silence

throughout the day.

They fostered  recollection,

free space to "re"- collect

our often blunted,

at times fractured,

soul sense and attention.

Out here on the street of everyday living

we can have, and greatly need,

our own version and blessing of

The Great Silence,

respites of silent recollection,

an attitude of "whole-ly" quiet.

Here are a few suggested do's and dont's:

   - we do one thing at a time and that with attention -

     if we walk, we walk -  we do not text

     phone, or ear bud music, we walk 100%

     and let it be what it is - if we listen to music,

     we  listen to music, settle into it

     and get completely absorbed

              ( downright counter cultural,

                                   downright necessary )

   - other than when necessary at work,

     we check our emails, voicemails, texts,

     the ticker, news flashes,

     and all their digital cousins

     only after breakfast and then again

     once well before dinner

               ( down right counter cultural,

                                down right necessary )

   - we revisit our visits to Facebook,

     Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and their flood

     of words, images,

     and  too often an unhealthy serving

     of  dulling, distracting  trivia
     We screen screen time

                          ( yep, downright counter cultural,

                                   downright necessary as well to be well )

   - we connect with radio, TV, print selectively ,

     for a purpose, and with complete attention,

     not for distraction and

    a hazing over of our consciousness

    - we free ourselves from every form of

      "Surround Sound" - whatever deafens

      sensitivity of soul, psyche, spirit

   - with a reverence for quiet,

     we dedicate a definite and generous portion

     of time to periods of recollection,

     and our version of

    "The Great Silence":

           - ease into it by slowing

             our pace and intensity

           - that's what we did in the seminary

             as we left church after Compline

             and silently processed to our rooms

             through dimly lit corridors

           - perhaps a warm cup of tea, a slow shower

             would do the gentle slowing for you

           - find a comfortable place and position

           - settle in by paying  relaxed attention

             to your breathing

           - gently draw deep breaths,

             exhale slowly and gently

           - we start where we are: tired, happy,

             confused, depleted, angry, overjoyed

           - we see, feel, "hear" that

           - let it fade and fold into the calm and quiet of

              The Eternal Now.

            - for some, the slow repetition

              of a sacred word or phrase

              settles them into

              the stillness of soul silence.

            - sometimes we muse, ponder, meditate

             - very often we just "be" in Being,

               enfolded into the embrace of Divine Love

We quiet down to be lifted up.

Silence isn't golden.

It's platinum plus!

If you care to, over the next few days

please use the generous portion of

Meditation Markers

that follow to ever more  sensitize

to silence and its sacred spaciousness.

Pick and choose what

speaks silence to your spirit

It might be a helpful  Lent experience.

Lastly, I thank you for being part of

our weekly sharing here at "frankly speaking."

I also thank many of you for your referrals,

for introducing your friends and colleagues

to "frankly speaking."

As I have learned over the past year of this blog,

your introduction of it to others

is the primary way people find out about it

and is the main way our gathering here

is shared with others.

Our sharing here now includes

participants from my homeland

here in the USA

and thirty other countries around

our global community.

I do my best not to get caught up

in the numbers game,

but these numbers do encourage me.

They encourage me

to continue trying  to serve you

by supporting our mutual spiritual journey

out here on the street of everyday living

through "frankly speaking."

Thank you for the trust, company,

the referrals and the encouragement.

See you next week.

For sure, holding each and all in

God's Dear Love,

   John Frank


                 MEDITATION MARKERS

Suggested Approach:

                  In a quiet time and place,

                  outside and inward,

                  reflect on one of these prompts:
                             - what does it mean?

                             - what does that meaning hold for me?

                             - how can I embrace it, live it?


Highly Recommended:

"Endangered Habitat," Why the soul needs silence,

 by Stephanie Bennett is a masterful,

comprehensive study of  how silence

is endangered in our culture

and how silence is essential for

the health of person and society.


simply Google the article by title and author.


From the Sufi Tradition - Rumi

- "Let silence take you to the core of life."

-"Your old life was a frantic running from silence.
   Move out of the tangle of fear-thinking.
   Live in silence"

-"All is known in the sacredness of silence."

-"Last night
   I begged the Wise One to tell me
   the secret of the world.
   Gently, gently, he whispered,
   'Be quiet,
   the secret cannot be spoken.
   It is wrapped in silence.' "

- "Keep silent, because
   the world of silence
   is a vast fullness."

-The Silk Worm

 "I stood before a silk worm one day.
  And that night my heart said to me,
  'I can do things like that,
  I can spin skies.
  I can be woven into love
  that can bring warmth to people:
  I can be soft against a crying face,
  I can be wings that lift,
  and I can travel on my thousand feet
  throughout the earth,
  my sacs filled with the sacred."
  And I replied to my heart,
 'Dear, can you really do all those things?'
 And it just nodded 'Yes' in silence.
 So we began and will never cease."


 From the Buddhist Tradition - Buddha

-"Silence is an empty space,
   space is the home
   of the awakened mind."

-"Do not speak unless
  it improves on silence."

-"Bring your mind to noble silence.
   Unify your mind in noble silence.
   Concentrate your mind in noble silence...
   Enter into pure rapture and pleasure
   born of silence
   derived of concentration and awareness
   that is free from thought and fabrication."


From the Taoist Tradition - Lao Tzu

-"Returning to the source is stillness.
   It is returning to one's fate.
   returning to one's fate is eternal."

-"Attain utmost emptiness.
   Abide in steadfast stillness."

-"A multitude of words is tiresome,
   unlike remaining centered."


 From the Christian Tradition

-"But Jesus often withdrew
   to lonely places to pray."
           Luke 5: 16

-"Now during those days
   he (Jesus) went out
   to the mountain to pray;
   and he spent the night
   in prayer to God."
            Luke 6: 12


From the Hindu Tradition

-"Silence is the first door to spiritual eminence."
               Adi Shankaracharya

-"There is something beyond our mind
   which abides in silence
   within our mind.
   It is the Supreme Mystery
   beyond thought.
   Let one's mind and one's body
   rest upon that
   and not rest
   on anything else,"
               Maitri Upanishad


From the Jewish Tradition

-"Be still and know that I am God."
                Psalm 46:10

-"For thus said the Lord God,
   the Holy One of Israel,
  'In returning and rest
   shall you be saved;
   in quietness and trust
   shall be your strength.' "
                    Isaiah 30:15

-"Be still before the Lord,
   and wait patiently
   for him."
                     Psalm 37:7








Friday, February 9, 2018


Hi There !

There's a folk tale that tells a truth to frequently revisit.

It's about Augustine, super sinner become super saint.

Augustine was walking along the ocean beach.

His peregrination was one big pondering on just what is God.

Augustine was a card carrying, heavy duty thinker.

He sees a little boy busy carrying bucket after bucket

of water from the ocean and poring it into a big hole

 he had dug out in the sand.

In response to Augustine's query about what he was doing,

the boy tells Augustine he is going to pour the whole ocean

into his big hole in the sand.

The ever rational Augustine tells the boy that's impossible,

the hole is way too small to contain the ocean.

The boy says

          "And your mind is way too small

           to ever come close to containing God,"

and then the boy disappears into the heavens.

 Myth speaks truth so artfully and fully.

Well, there's more than a little of Augustine in most of us.

We come from a long line of heavy duty thinkers

and their movements: the philosophers of ancient Greece,

the Romans and their organizational genius,

a bevy of notable Christian thinkers

the likes of Augustine, Origin, Aquinas, Bonaventure,

rethinking ancient ways in the Renaissance,

the intensely rational Enlightenment,

the Reformation with a lot of "thinkie things "

like doctrines and dogmas,

the calibrations of the Industrial Revolution,

now our own highly scientific and technological era.

Much, much good for sure, yet as a culture

we are decidedly left brain, often to an extreme.

We assume we can think through,

figure out, analyze anything and everything,

if not now, sometime, somehow.

That can throw a monkey wrench into all sorts of things,

our spiritual lives certainly included .

It definitely throws  us way off in terms of God.

Sure, philosophize, theologize for all your worth.

But God isn't something to figure out.

God is to be experienced, lived.

What we can intellectually know of God is good.

It is also limited.

It is an inch to the Alps!!

Look at lovers.

They "know" all sorts of things about the each other,

none of which comes within a galaxy

of experiencing oneness with the beloved.

The ancient Greeks had a wonderful awareness of all this.

They called it 

           A  reality so vast the human mind alone cannot grasp it.

In this wonderful sense God is a mystery.

Metaphor helps.

God is like the ocean.

It is real, but we cannot grasp it with our arms or with our eyes.

It's just too vast.

What we can do is jump in, delight in it, and that without end.

That's what lovers do with each other.

We are invited to be lovers.

             "Love the Lord your God

              with all you mind, heart and soul."

                                             Mark 12:30-31

Lovers can be incredibly intellectual.

When they get in bed they have more important things to do!!!

Much of the disconnect with God in our time is because the church

has turned God into a concept to be studied and believed,

a "Thinkie Thing."

In reality, God is Reality.

God is the Essence of all.

God is the mystery in which all is.

The ocean of all.

Love Itself.

To put metaphor to it, our spiritual lives

are all about getting lost in God.

For the more cautious, "Go for a swim!"

For the rest of us, "Let's go to bed!!

You can't get more "thinkie" than Albert Einstein.

What a gift he is. He has opened up the heavens for us

like no one ever before.

Let's give a lot of time, an open mind, a spaciousness of spirit

to what this mighty "thinker" thinks about mystery:

       "The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have

         is a sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle

         of religion as well as all serious endeavor

         in art and science.   He who has never had this experience

         seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.

         To sense that behind anything that can be experienced

         there is something that our mind cannot grasp

         and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us

         only indirectly and as a feeble reflection,

         this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.

         To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets

         and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind

         a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is."

Expressed from the Christian Tradition,                                                                    

the mystery that

                 " God is love."
                                        ( 1 John 4:8 )
                 "In him we live, and move and have our being."
                                                                                            ( Acts 17:28 ).

What a  


Jump in!!!!

( ocean or bed ).


It's a delight to welcome to our weekly gathering here

new members from Finland, Turkey and Switzerland.

Happy we can all share this gathering together.

Every blessing and goodness.

Holding all in

God's Dear Love,

  John Frank


Friday, February 2, 2018


Hi There !

"Guess who's coming to town?

Well, I didn't have to. I already knew, and made good and sure

I got there, and early at that.

It all started when I was seven years old.

G. Mennen Williams was running for governor and was scheduled to make

a campaign appearance at a community picnic in town.

Arriving in his great big Chrysler, he was truly impressive,

starting with his signature polka dot bow tie -

pleasant, self assured, affable - a commanding presence.

I was quite taken with him and what he had to say.

I was influenced so strongly that I urged my parents

to vote for him!!

( Political at seven)

 Guess who else "came to town."

When I was  eleven, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at our town forum.

I got there while they were still putting up the chairs

and I quickly secured one right up front and on the aisle.

My " Hello Mrs. Roosevelt" as she walked by was matched by

a smile and "Hello there, young man."


Yes, she was dressed like my grandmother ( who was a Republican ),

and yes, her voice oscillated over a range of octaves,

but what an impressive presence and message.

Early on as a boy I realized that there were people

of commanding stature and quality who were many cuts above,

and that it was worthwhile to be there when they "came to town,"

that they could have a good influence on me.

That readiness continued over the years right there in my hometown,

and then on to college, grad school, over the years and does so today.

There was Dorothy Day, Eric Sevareid, Daniel Berrigan, Gabriel Marcel,

Dom James Fox, Hans Kung, Bernard Lonergan,

 Martin Marty, Gerald May, Richard Rohr..

 When these people "came to town," I made sure to be there.

In their various ways each was  head and shoulders

above most teachers, thinkers, leaders.

There was a commanding authority about them, one that had influence.

All this raises the question of what authority do we follow, under whose influence

do we live out our spiritual lives here on the street of everyday living?

The issue is perfectly framed, crystal clear,

 right from the get go of Mark's Gospel.( Mark 1: 21-28 )

 Jesus was "coming to town," to the town of Capernaum.

There he was in the synagogue

teaching away, and doing so "as one having authority," not like the locals.

Jesus knew what he was taking about, spoke with  authority,

because he was completely, genuinely one with God and humanity,

                              being that union incarnate.

He had a totally clear channel to both.

When he spoke it was so real that people could identify.

They recognized that he knew what he was talking about, that in fact

                                     HE WAS

                        what he was talking about.

God and humanity flowed freely and fully through him

and it was a commanding influence. In fact, he commanded an evil spirit

to get the hell out of a  possessed man, and it went packing.

Realness replaced unrealness.

A clear river washes clean a dirty puddle.

So, how about us?

What "authority" has a commanding influence over who, how, what we are?

                                           Who fills our heads?

                                           Who floods our hearts?

                                           Whose lead do we follow?

Our spiritual lives are greatly influenced by leaders -

political, religious, intellectual, artistic, economic.

Whose lead we follow determines where we end up and how we get there.

Our spiritual lives are greatly influenced by our life style.

What group, what "authority"  dictates our life priorities, our schedule,

our occupation, income goals, savings, housing, leisure, recreation,

education, religion, family life, child rearing, social life.

                            What influence holds sway?

                            That's how we swing.

Our spiritual lives are greatly influenced by our direction and dedication.

Politically do we go green, right, left, "alt," or ...?

Whose environmental, social justice, religious influence serves as our GPS

for finding our way to creation and people care, to a "for real" spirituality?

A quick litmus test for who has authority over us, influences us in our spiritual lives:

                               Where do we get what we "know" and "feel"???? -

                               FOX, NBC, PBS, CNN, BREITBART, NPR?

                                      What they say says a lot about us.

Recognized or not, we all follow authority and it influences what becomes of us and

 how we impact planet and people.

                                       A good Soul Search is:

                           "Whose coming to town" will I  go for?

                   I'm under the influence of____________________?"

Last week's posting here was " Cor "  (01-26-18).

It was about encouragement.

Over the past week there has been a  major spike in the number of participants here

at "frankly speaking.".

A sincere thanks to all who recommended "frankly speaking" to friends and associates.

Your trust and backing is truly encouraging.

See you next week.

Holding one and all  from Sheboygan to Seoul in

God's Dear Love.

   John Frank