Thursday, June 25, 2020


Dear All of Us,

Next time someone asks us
       "What are you doing with yourself these days?"
how would we answer:
         "I have a level eight position in the Department of Labor"
       "I write poetry"
         "I don't have one hell of an idea!"
       "I teach second graders"
       "I drive for UPS"
       "I volunteer at the church food pantry"
       "I just had a baby"
       "I do portrait photography"
       "I am wasting away in a dead end marriage."
       "I cook hamburgers at McDonalds"
       "I read and travel"

If the follow up is
       "How much do you love what you do?"
how would we respond:
         "I grin and bear the grind"
       "Can't wait to do it"
       "It puts food on the table"
       "It's ok sort of some times"
       "It gets me firing on all eight cylinders"
       "I absolutely hate it"
       "Couldn't love it more"
       "I simply..."

Well, how about this response to both quires:
          "I do beauty and I love it."

That's the counsel of our delightful, sassy, 
down to earth and all the way up to heaven,
Sufi mystic and spiritual friend, Rumi.
His response is:


What wisdom!
How positive and alive!
It means that whatever we do, 
easy or hard,
we let it come from love, 
love of the beautiful,
even if that love is buried under a pile of pain at times.
Love merges us with the beautiful.
That enlivens, energizes.
Then whatever we do is a doing of beauty.
At the core of all is love and that love is God:
             "God is love." 
                                        I John 4:8
All our doing then flows from being in Love,
being in God,
loving the beauty of God all about and within
and the beauty we love is what we do:
       - raising a child 
       - absorption in Taize chant
       - cooking supper for the homeless
       - being awash in scripture
       - visiting the lonely
       - getting lost in the sunrise
       - writing to a friend,
       - forgiving an offense
       - caring for the marginalized
       - trying to make the best of a really bad situation
       - letting go in prayer
       - at work and at play
       - everywhere and always
and all that doing is beautiful.

About now I can hear,
           "Oh yeah? 
         Sounds great, 
         pretty poetic and all that,
         but what about
         the person working a deadening assembly line to support the family,
         the woman in labor for twenty hours,
         the dedicated social worker dodging bullets in Chicago,    
            the politician at risk for playing it clean and principled?"
Not ease, but those folks sure are in Love with something beautiful
and what they do because of that Love sure is a beautiful doing,
even if painful.

Over the next week 
let's savor these scriptures,
sensing The Spirit,
seeing ever more how we can 
let the beauty we love be what we do.
It might help to spell it out in our journal:
           how do/can each of these three scriptures
           get lived out in our actual, daily doing?
         " Do everything in love."
                                                              I Corinthians 16:14
         " Whatever you do, do with all your heart,
           as working for the Lord..."
                                                              Colossians 3: 23
         " So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
           do it all to the glory of God..."
                                                              I Corinthians 10:31

While reflecting on all this, 
one of our community here 
at "frankly speaking" drew a word tree. 
The trunk and branches 
are words reaching upward and outward, 
bespeaking the beauty/love doing in her life.
Here's her's in the hope of encouraging us 
to draw out ours.

                            family  invite  
                         entertain  culture  
                   awe   museums  watercolor  
                                      church home 
                          cooking classes
                         create community


               Great to be doing this blog with you.

                               I love it!

                     In The Love Who is God

                             John Frank


             Every week we have new members 
             joining our little gathering here.
             Among others, we were graced 
             this week with a large number
             of new folks from The United Kingdom.
             We count ourselves blessed 
             by your presence and sharing.

                       "frankly speaking"
                   spirituality for the street

      is posted Thursday before dinner, east coast USA time

      is available by automatic email Fridays
              sign up top of this posting

      past postings are available at Blog Archive
                         right column 

                     See you next week!!






Thursday, June 18, 2020



"frankly speaking" is all about
 spirituality for the street,
 the actual, practical living of it.

 Right now our "streets" 
 are rough and rocky.
 They are clogged 
 with confusion and conflict -
 it's a hard way to go.

 What follows addresses that.
 What follows is not a quick 
 nor an easy read,
 but then our way forward
 is neither quick nor easy.


Dear All of Us,

I went to church twice last Sunday.
No, I'm not a Baptist, but I was
    and that Big Time!!

My head and heart were like 
two ping-pong ballsl
being slammed back and forth
ever faster and harder
across a table of trouble.
          I was had!

Those two Sunday sermons
paddled soul and psyche 
more painfully than 
any Victorian headmaster.

One sermon was pastoral.  
The other was prophetic.

The combination epitomizes
the fix we're in 
and its challenge 
to our spiritual lives.
With a pandemic that 
just isn't going to go away
for too terribly long, 
with economic havoc
in lock step,
with ethnic/racial injustice
demanding foundational redress,
with the civic sector
more a battlefield 
than a unified field 
of competent cooperation,
vexing, taxing concerns -
will I die,
will there be enough food,
will there be a fair election,
can leaders lead?
How make spiritual sense of it all,
in the midst of it all?
What do we do 
and how do we do it?
Society is blitzed,
Our souls are blitzed.
Soul and society seek balance.

How do we go from 
Blitzed To Balanced?

How TO "B"?

So, let's check out those Sunday sermons.

The first sermon was from 
the pastor of our local church.
In his deliberate, kindly way 
he spoke of the fatigue 
we all are feeling.
Months of plague and now protest
are a double whammy
wearing us out.
How long?
So many limits!
The economy?
Will governance hold?
Readjustment after readjustment!
They tire our psyche and soul.
We are worry weary
and we know there's a lot more to come.
The pastor urged self care,
encouraged being faithful disciples,
counselled patience and hope.
The sermon was pastorally 
sensitive and honest. 

Next up on live stream was 
the service from
The National Cathedral here in DC.
The guest preacher was
William J. Barber, 
co-leader of The Poor Peoples' Campaign.
He read from Amos  
    The Message Translation.
Then it was a half hour plus of
prophetic preaching
that had all the power and punch
of Amos, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jerimiah
and their entire prophet clan.
Barber masterfully painted the plight
we face as a people and how we got here,
what we need to be and do,
and the tremendous stretch all that requires 
                  - read -


He held before us the fact that 
from our start we were founded 
with a lethal admixture 
of death dealing and injustice to,
and in contradiction to, noble principles 
of democracy and equality.
The poison has yet to be lanced and let.
It's killing us, 
especially if we are black or brown.
Yet it is killing us in a different way 
if we are white.
Our very souls are compromised
by benefitting from privilege 
at a horrible cost to others.
Most of us don't intend, nor see it,
but we are part of the problem.
We live in a system
that favors some,
denies others
and does so systemically
in deadening to deadly ways.

Barber gave voice to God's cry for lament.

     "Go out into the streets and lament loudly!'
                      Amos 5:16

Barber just plain boomed God's demand for justice.

     "Do you know what I want?
      I want justice - oceans of it.
      I want fairness - rivers of it.
     That's what I want. That's all I want."
                      Amos 5:24

Those two sermons represent 
the vice grip
squeezing us spiritually.
How can we grow past 
the death dealing and injustice,
that poison our society spiritually, 
racially, economically, governmentally.
How do we work for justice?
What can one little old me do?
How do we keep our heads above water 
dealing with all that plus 
the on-going pandemic, 
protests and civil upset?

How do we go from 
Blitzed to Balanced?


Here are a few
that might help us get started with that.

More than anything, we let 
     The Holy Spirit
have us top to bottom,
all way round, inside out, outside in. 
We let 
     The Holy Spirit
free us from fear, 
guide and strengthen us.
We quit any efforts to be 
Lone Rangers, to play God,
or the opposite by resigning
from active duty 
on the field of our Conflicted Now.
We joyfully give over and let 
     The Holy Spirit 
flow freely and fully through us,
        giving us
the light to see, 
the way to be and go,
the energy to do that,
changing us,
vivifying us,
transforming us,
showing us how to move from

Blitzed to Balanced


Privilege we have.
We use it to help others 
come to justice and parity.
Privilege for all.

From across the racial/ethnic spectrum 
we need to gather 
      as citizens
      as neighbors
      as corporations and unions
      as religious bodies
      as schools
      as political parties
      as clubs, interest groups, teams.

From across the racial/ethnic spectrum      
      we meet
      we engage
      we stay open and vulnerable
      we listen
      we share
      we face the problem
      we search for justice
      we stay no mater the discomfort
      we struggle to solidarity
      we together learn
           HOW TO "B"

We work for political candidates
with a proven tract record 
of justice seeking for all.

We develop cross ethnic/religious 
dinner groups that will let people 
get to know each other 
and their families as we really are.

We share cultural and ethnic celebrations, 
meals, parades, rituals .

We get two different kinds of people
focused on a third experience,
say developing a neighborhood garden, 
sharing a community tool shed.
We mix it up to enriched inclusion.

We honestly embrace a life style 
that provides us enough,
but not an excess.
We drive an adequate, 
but not high end car.
We select vacations that refresh,
but are not excesses
of pampered self indulgence.
We dress neatly and tastefully,
but skip a closet of extravagance.
We don't corner capital. 

We encourage our religious body
to indeed "embody" us as we are, 
to open heart and door 
to people of various shades 
and hues of color and culture,
to incorporate a richness 
of language, music, art, ritual 
in a soul sharing faith family.
We get excited to stretch and change 
for expansive inclusion
and mutual mission.

We adjust our portfolios 
to the gold standard 
of just enterprise. 

We frequent ethnic and minority 
stores and restaurants.

We might have a try at learning Spanish.

Justice means "Justus" - 
    "getting it right".
That starts right at the heart
and grows out from there 
to all kinds of 
just and delightful expressions.
We join God in getting excited 
about each other and us together.
We lighten up, open up,
and let God show off his children to us, 
the delights of her heart 
in all our uniqueness
and oneness in God.
We do all we can, 
where we can, 
when we can
to let God's Rightness, God's Justice,
flow through us, our very souls, 
our life styles, our work, 
social life and community.

We model ourselves on Jesus.
He lived in a horribly unjust 
and violent society, 
under the domination 
of the evil empire 
that was Rome.
Jesus didn't let that side track him.
He didn't blitz out.
He was balanced.
He stayed upright 
and went right ahead  
in the Love that he is.
He lived what he spoke,
healing the sick and hurt.
In him we now look out for 
the hurting "left outs"
at school, at work, in town.
That could mean getting friendly 
with the bus driver of color 
and eventually having 
our families get together
for picnics and games.
It could mean quietly covering 
the health insurance premium
of a migrant family
through the agency 
our religious community.

"A person is known      
by the company they keep."
Jesus kept company with 
the "throw aways" of his time:
prostitutes, lepers, children,
foreigners, the poor -
those pushed to the edge.
We embrace and interact
with all pushed to the sidelines: 
gays, trans, minorities, migrants,
the "other", the quirkie and odd balls
at the office, down the street.

Like Jesus, we are zoned.
Like Jesus we live
a love expressed in justice
right where we are.
We think globally.
We act locally.

Jesus went off for regular 
huddles with his Abba.
We do the same.
In those huddles we are 
steadied and strengthened.
We see a way forward,
we are graced to live 
our spiritual lives
in the midst of mess, 
working for things 
to be just right - Justus.

A big help here is to get 
an Accountability Group going.
Up to ten or so of us covenant 
to meet regularly, ask and listen:
"How is it with your soul?"
We help each other stay the course
to a deep interior life 
and a ministry of mercy.

BLITZED we will be.

BALANCED we can "B"

"Come Holy Spirit"

    John Frank



          This week we had 795 first time visitors from Romania.
          That's a first time in a number of ways!
          What an honor. A warm welcome to you all, 
          as well as to our other first time visitors.


                             PRAY AND PONDER

This week it might be helpful to slowly go over the above posting, 
a little at a time each day . There's a lot there for prayerful pondering
and personal as well as shared application. In fact, perhaps a sharing 
with a Soul Friend, or in a small group setting, would ne worthwhile.

The same is true and more so of William Barber's sermon. 


                               June 14, 2020

                       The Rev. D. William J. Barber II


The Message is a translation of the scriptures from the street words
of when and where they were written to the street words of our here and now.

                                AMOS 5: 20- 24

                 At God's coming we face hard reality, not
                                    fantasy -
                 a black cloud with no silver lining.

                 I can't stand your religious meetings.
                   I'm fed up with your conferences and
                 I want nothing to do with your religious projects,
                      your pretentious slogans and goals.
                 I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes.
                     your public relations and image making.
                 I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
                      When was the last time you sang to me?
                 Do you know what I want?
                     I want justice - oceans of it.
                 I want fairness - rivers of it.
                      That's what I want. That all I want.


                                "frankly speaking"

                           spirituality for the streets

-is posted each Thursday, usually well before dinner

 east coast USA time

-is available by automatic email delivery each Friday -

sign up above

-past posting are to be found at Blog Archive
 lower right column  


                            COME HOLY SPIRIT

Thursday, June 11, 2020


Dear All of Us,

An older woman had stopped going to synagogue.
The rabbi went to visit.
They sat quietly in front of the fireplace.
The rabbi picked up the tongs.
He took a glowing coal from the fire,
set it on the brick hearth.
The small coal slowly lost its glow, blackened, and died out.
After more quiet, the older woman said,
"I understand. I'll come back to synagogue."

Community is essential in our spiritual lives.

Separated from the intensity of a spiritual community,
like that coal separated from the fire,
our spirit loses its glow, blackens and dies out.

Community is essential in our spiritual lives.

The Pan Problem has separated us 
from our spiritual communities
in a lot of painful ways.
We need each other up close and personal.
It's rough trying to have a bonfire 
with individual logs spread all over the field.

This separation is a hardship for sure.
Things are  No Longer  as they were 
and they are  Not Yet  what they will be.
We are like the crews that were stuck 
on board cruise ships, not allowed into port.
It was  No Longer  what it was months ago
and it was  Not Yet  what they so long for.
In our own way we are adrift nowhere.
What are we to do?

We need to do what the followers of Jesus
have done over the centuries -
find the best possible way to be together.
That has taken many, many forms
moving from  No Longer  toward  Not Yet
in the  Just Now.

Separated from Jesus after his death, 
the first followers were confused and frightened.
They hid out, stuck together, prayed 
and waited for the promised Spirit.
Inspirited at Pentecost, they hit the streets
inviting everyone in on the life.

The early Christian communities 
were not socially preferred
to painfully persecuted.
They formed themselves into
small, close knit, 
caring and sharing
Home Churches.

The Roman Christians were hunted 
and thrown to the lions.
They went under ground - 
The Catacomb Church.
They rose above limit. 

John Wesley was concerned.
The Church of England 
was a stiff, arrogant dark shadow 
of a spiritual community
during the Industrial Revolution.
John Wesley went into the slums 
and mining towns of England. 
He gathered the dirty poor into small groups
for spiritual support and shared life.

In Communist prison camps 
Christians didn't have 
church buildings or programs.
They had each other.
They sacrificed and cared for one another
and other prisoners as well.
They lived beautifully as The Body of Christ 
in rags and suffering.
Their togetherness was a Holy Communion
in attitude and action.

The poor and marginalizes of South America
found themselves spiritually starved, 
Gospel denied, in a church owned by 
the state and it's wealthy elites.
They formed  Base Communities.
Gathering in small, close, caring local groups,
they applied and lived 
the Gospel personally and socially.
It was Liberation Theology
for sure, for self, for society. 

For all of these it was/is community 
No Longer  as it was
and  Not Yet  what it would be.

So it is for us.
We, too, are seeking 
the best possible ways 
we can to share the intensity, 
the fire of the Spirit,
to be in community as 
The Body of Christ during this
No Longer  and  Not Yet  of our  Just Now:

Tonight about ten of us from 
our local and closed church
are connecting through ZOOM 
for a Happy Hour -
sharing spirits and Spirit.
A Men's Spirituality Group 
does Soul Share by ZOOM.
For others it is Bible Study,
Prayer Groups, 
Small Bubble Groups gather for 
faith sharing, fellowship and a meal, 
in person once a week.
Some are families. Others are singles. 
(it is a select and committed quarantine)
A core of five each call two 
isolated members of their closed church 
each day. That amounts to 
seventy "communions" a week. 
They share conversation, 
trouble shoot and resource.
"Old pastors never die. 
They just do spiritual direction"-
these days by phone/facetime. 
This "old pastor" is 
so privileged twice a day - 
it's a really good connection for both us - 
(and it keeps me off the street 
and out of the lounge chair!!).
Some stream a Eucharistic Service
and place a white napkin 
in front of the screen. 
They have a little piece of bread 
and a small glass of wine there 
and share in Holy Communion. 
Jesus used what was available 
for communion at The Last Supper.
They use what's available
in our  No Longer  and  Not Yet.
The issue isn't physical distance, 
polity or transmission. 
It's Holy Communion. 
A good connect here is 
The National Cathedral in Washington DC. 
They live streamed the Eucharist 
at 11:15 A.M., east coast USA time,
Sunday mornings as does
St. John's Abbey, Collegeville MN,
at 10:30 CDT.
Using a variety of media,
mentors meet with youth weekly 
as they prepare for Confirmation.

Prayerfully we discern 
our means and others' needs, 
funding those needs, 
being in supportive community. 
Here in DC "Charlie's Place" 
is a vibrant group gathered 
to feed and assist the homeless. 
Check out (perhaps with a check)
such groups  where you live.

Consider forming a group 
of parents and 
2020 high school graduates 
as they try to figure 
their way forward toward college. 
Perhaps you could ask 
an educator from your community 
to facilitate and gather online.
 A group from the church 
could use media to discuss 
and be proactive 
in addressing social 
and environmental issues.
Members of spiritual communities 
have sacrificed social distancing
and possibly their health.  
They come together 
to peacefully protest both police 
and systemic racial injustice.
Hopefully they we find ways 
to band together for 
the long, hard work ahead
to secure racial justice 
and societal unity.
Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, 
pastor of Foundry
United Methodist Church 
here in DC put it well:
    "The building is closed. 

      The Church is open"    

There are ever so many ways 
to be and do spiritual community
in these really difficult times.
We can't have what is 
No longer  nor what is  Not Yet.
We can be and have community
in what is our  Right Now.
Christians have done it 
over the millennia.
It's essential to our spiritual lives 
that we be and do such.
We don't want to
lose our glow, darken, die out.
We need others and they need us.


          John Frank


The story of the older lady 
and the rabbi is adapted from

VISION 2000 Praying Scripture 
in a Contemporary Way

by Mark Link.
Thanks to my friend Michael Byler
 for the referral.


        Here's a grateful
           SHOUT OUT

to all who invited many, many others 
to our little community here last week.
A warm welcome to all new to 

       frankly speaking

   spirituality for the street

- it is posted each Thursday evening 
  or sooner, east coast USA time

- it is available by automatic 
  email delivery each Friday -
  sign up above right

- past postings are at Blog Archive
  bottom right column


         BURN BRIGHT