Friday, March 23, 2018


                                                            HOLY WEEK

                                                  We are invited to make a retreat.

                                                  We are invited to go into solitude.

                                                  We are invited to use the sharings

                                                  offered here over the seven days

                                                  of this Holy Week to both

                                                  understand more deeply and

                                                  experience more fully

                                                  the  centrality and richness of

         \                                                   SOLITUDE.

                                                  What follows is crafted

                                                  for a week long, slow, progressive

                                                  prayer and meditation.

                                                  We are invited to find quiet time
                                                  and space each day

                                                  to consider a portion

                                                  of what is offered here,

                                                  to be in and to savor solitude.




Hi There!

So, "solitude" has eight letters to it,

but in our cultural setting,

it's pretty much a dirty, four letter word.

In reality, though, "solitude"

is ever so purifying,

just like its twin, "society."

They are one in different ways,

two ways to be alive in

The Love Who Is God.

        "We need society and we need solitude also  
          as we need summer and winter,
          day and night, exercise and rest."
                                       Philip Gilbert Hamerton

In complementary ways solitude and society

help us find ourselves positioned in the

Center and Source of All,

The One Who Is God.

            "We must become so alone,
              so totally alone,
              that we withdraw into our innermost self.
              It is a way of bitter suffering.
              But then our solitude is overcome,
              we are no longer alone,
              for we find that our innermost
              self is the spirit,
              that it is God,
              the indivisible.
              And suddenly we find ourselves
              in the midst of the world,
              yet undisturbed by its multiplicity,
              for in our innermost soul
              we know ourselves
              to be one with all being.

                                                Hermann Hesse

Solitude and Society.

Jesus thrived on this complementary oneness.

He was out and about with the folks a- plenty;

connecting, caring, healing,

teaching - enlivening!

He urged us to get out as well

in active people love and care,

        "Love each other as I have loved you..."

                                                   John 15:12

        "I was hungry and
         you gave me food,
         I was thirsty and
         you gave me something to drink.
         I was a stranger and
         you welcomed me,
         I was naked and
         you gave me clothing,
         I was sick and
         you took care of me,
         I was in prison and
         you visited me...
         Whatever you did to the least
          you did unto me."

                  Matthew 25: 35-36 & 40

Jesus also went off by himself to a place apart.

          "He got up and slipped away
            to a solitary place to pray."


He ventured into solitude

to be immersed in an intense intimacy

with "Abba," his "Daddy."

That's the literal translation.

"Heavenly Father" is a more formal

 and less clear translations.

He encouraged us to go apart into solitude as well:

                "But when you pray,
                  go into your room,
                  close the door and pray
                  to your Father,
                  who is unseen.
                  Then your Father,
                  who sees what is done in secret,
                  will reward you."

                                                         Matthew 6:6

We are God centered and sourced

in the twin oneness of society and solitude.

In our current cultural context, though,

solitude is far from the preferred twin,

frequently feared,

often orphaned.

Let's check out both

the problem and the potential,

and see just where we are with solitude

in our spiritual lives out here

on the street of everyday living.


           "One of the greatest necessities
             in America is to discover
             creative solitude."

                                                  Carl Sandburg

               "What a commentary on civilization,
                 when being alone is suspect,
                 when one has to apologize for it,
                 make excuses,
                 hide the fact that one practices it -
                 like a secret vice."

                                         Anne Morrow Lindbergh

                "Loneliness is such
                  an omnipotent and painful threat
                  to many persons,
                  that they have little conception          
                  of the positive values of solitude,
                  and even at times are frightened
                  at the prospect of being alone.

                                                            Rollo May

                   "We live in a world starved for solitude,
                     silence and the private:
                     and therefore starved  
                     for meditation and friendship."

                                                            C.S. Lewis

                     "All men's miseries
                       derive from not being able
                       to sit still in a quiet room alone."

                                                             Blaise Pascal

                       "How can you hear your soul
                         if everyone is talking?"

                                                   Mary Doria Russell

                        "Solitude is a necessary protest
                          to the incursions and false alarms
                          of society's hysteria,
                          a period of cure and recovery."

                                           Abraham Joshua Heschal

  Check this out.
             Check the day's new's.
                                And get thee to solitude:

                          "When society is made up of men
                            who know no interior solitude
                            it can no longer be held together by love:
                            and consequently it is held together
                            by a violent and abusive authority.
                            But when men are violently deprived
                            of the solitude and freedom
                            which are their due,
                            then society in which they live
                            becomes putrid,
                            it festers with servility,
                            resentment and hate."

                                                               Thomas Merton

Oh yes,
       Get thee to solitude!!

We not only have a problem,
we are in peril.

Yet, we also have potential

if we will center in solitude.


       "Your inner voice is the voice of divinity.
         To hear it, we need to be in solitude,
         even in crowed places."

                                                A. R. Rahman

          "Then stirs the feeling infinite,
            so felt in solitude,
            when we are least alone."

                                                Lord Byron

           "The happiest of all lives
             is a busy solitude."


           "A little while alone in your room
            will prove more valuable
            than anything else that could be given you."


           "I am never less alone than when alone."


             "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires."

                                                           Omar Khayyam

              "The reason old souls enjoy spending time alone
                is because they never really are."


                 "Solitude gives birth to the original in us."

                                                                       Thomas Mann

                   "Solitude is the place of purification."

                                                                         Martin Buber

                    "It is only in solitude that I find my core."

                                                        Anne Morrow Lindbergh

                      "One can be instructed in society,
                       one is inspired only in solitude."

                                                   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

                        "By waiting and calm you shall be saved,
                         in quiet and trust shall be your strength."

                                                                           Isaiah 30: 15

                          "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone."

                                                                              Psalm 62:5

                            "(Elijah) went into a cave and spent the night.
                             And the word of the Lord came to him...
                             a gentle whisper."

                                                                          1 Kings19:9,12

                              "Come with me by yourselves
                                to a quiet place,
                                and get some rest.
                                So they went away to a solitary place."


                                                                                ( Mark 6:31-32)

                                 "For God alone my soul awaits in silence."

                                                                                        Psalm 62:1

                                "Nowhere can man find a quieter
                                  or more untroubled retreat than his own soul."

                                                                               Marcus Aurelius

                                 "Be still and know that I am God."

                                                                                      Psalm 46:10

When we take Jesus up on his invite to solitude,

we go to our room and close the door.

our "room" could be a place in our home.

It could be an alone place

on the beach,

or on a mountain top.

It could be in a quiet church,

or in our garden,

or at the local library.

Our "room" is wherever we can be calm and quiet.

We leave phone and texting behind and turned off.

We open the cage and let our monkey mind clear out:

did I pay the mortgage,

wonder if we'll have sex tonight,

can I close that important deal tomorrow,

having sex tonight might de-stress me

for closing that deal tomorrow  !!!  

(couldn't resist that, well, I could have,

but I really didn't want to!!),

I wonder how my spiritual life

shapes up compared to others,

should I get a gym membership

and start working out,

so on and so forth.

We let those jumping monkeys out

as we relax into to calm quiet.

Our "room" is where we can be alone,

so that we won't be alone

because we are in God's embrace.

"Soul Solitude" is what lovers do.

They delight in being naked to each other.

Naked, they can be all wrapped up in each other.

Nothing in between.

Sometimes it pulses with passion.

Other times it is wordless and still oneness.

Yet other times there is a pondering together.

Whatever the moment and mode in our "room,"

 we are loved alive in its solitude.

We then bring that loving aliveness

to others in society with our caring and sharing.

We live a marriage, we raise kids

 and spoil grandkids,

we are single and find ways to spend ourselves

for those who really need what we can be and do,

we car pool our kids soccer team,

we invite left outs to have dinner at our place,

we wrap old times into all our good times,

we do an awesome piece of work on the job,

we are active in our spiritual community

however imperfect it may be.

In a word we do what Jesus did

and wants to do through us, we


Solitude blends into society.

Society blends into solitude.

Yes, two ways of being one.

Social Solitude.

God Bless us every one and every way.

See you next week.

Holding each and all

this Holiest of Weeks in

God's Dear Love,

    John Frank