Thursday, September 24, 2020


Dear All of Us,

And you sure are!

And I'm quite concerned for you.

And thus this.

An alarmist just makes things worse.

But, if the house is on fire,

it's essential to sound the alarm.

You need to yell like hell

for heaven's sake !!

Never mind the house.

Right now the whole damn neighborhood

is on fire and it's going to get a lot worse.

Neither the steering wheel nor breaks work

on the firetruck.

We are in peril.

You don't want to hear it.

I don't want to say it.

We both better.

A year or more ago a Pew Poll

found that a third of Americans 

expected a civil war in the USA

within five years.

It didn't take five years.

 - Armed mulita.

 - Democratic process under siege.

 - Hoarding.

 - Chaotic response to a virulent virus.

 - Disruption and death.

 - Community and commerce compromised.

 - Malignant racial ulcers hemorrhaging.

 - Protest in the streets.

 - Cultural confusion and conflict.

 - Social justice bills coming due.

 - Employment foiled.

 - Financial jeopardy.

 - Climate out of control.

 - Governmental contention and chaos. 

 - Political pit bulls.

 - Truth and objectivity savaged.

 - Pernicious misinformation.

 - An educational system that can't.

 - Social media that sadly is a STD,

   a socially transmitted disease.

 - A culture and civilization choking

           "I can't breathe."

How do you catch your breath so you can:

  - graduate and get a job

  - get married and raise some kids

  - keep your farm or small business viable

  - stay healthy

  - experience community

  - stay employed

  - float your financial boat

  - weather the physic/emotional storms 

    of our rough right now

  - age gracefully and safely

  - deal with supply chain uncertainty

  - be church 

  - live a vibrant spiritual life 

    in the midst of the mess.

Richard Rohr is the real deal. 

He's a breath of fresh air,

a spiritual pulmonologist.

Monday past he shared

strong spiritual wisdom.

He gives us a way to go,

a way to catch our breath.

In Latin the word for breath is


Together let's spent the next week

reading, rereading, pondering in prayer the


that Richard shares.

This is not casual anything nor a quick read.

As we read it with our eyes

may we hear it with our hearts.

May we breathe in 

               The Spirit


                                         FROM RICHARD ROHR

Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months.

I awoke on Saturday, September 19, with three sources in my mind for guidance: Etty Hillesum (1914 – 1943), the young Jewish woman who suffered much more injustice in the concentration camp than we are suffering now; Psalm 62, which must have been written in a time of a major oppression of the Jewish people; and the Irish Poet, W.B.Yeats (1965 – 1939), who wrote his “Second Coming” during the horrors of the World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. 

These three sources form the core of my invitation. Read each one slowly as your first practice. Let us begin with Etty:

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too … And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.

—Etty Hillesum, Westerbork transit camp

Note her second-person usage, talking to “You, God” quite directly and personally. There is a Presence with her, even as she is surrounded by so much suffering.

Then, the perennial classic wisdom of the Psalms:

In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.

—Psalm 62:5–9

What could it mean to find rest like this in a world such as ours? Every day more and more people are facing the catastrophe of extreme weather. The neurotic news cycle is increasingly driven by a single narcissistic leader whose words and deeds incite hatred, sow discord, and amplify the daily chaos. The pandemic that seems to be returning in waves continues to wreak suffering and disorder with no end in sight, and there is no guarantee of the future in an economy designed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and those subsisting at the margins of society. 

It’s no wonder the mental and emotional health among a large portion of the American population is in tangible decline! We have wholesale abandoned any sense of truth, objectivity, science or religion in civil conversation; we now recognize we are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns).

We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs). Yeats’ oft-quoted poem “The Second Coming” then feels like a direct prophecy. See if you do not agree:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.

God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.

Stand as a sentry at the door of your senses for these coming months, so “the blood-dimmed tide” cannot make its way into your soul.

If you allow it for too long, it will become who you are, and you will no longer have natural access to the “really deep well” that Etty Hillesum returned to so often and that held so much vitality and freedom for her.

If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.

Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above.

        You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all. 
        And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
        And everything to gain. 

Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020


                                       Thank You Richard!

                                And thank you for permission 

                                to forward the above to others.

                                          In The Breath

                                           John Frank


    Richard offers a Daily Meditation by email - it is free and it is good - go to

                       The Center for Action and Contemplation

   Hopefully we can continue our series FOLLOW THROUGH next week.


Thursday, September 17, 2020


        This is the second of our

             Fall Series


             Living out

    The Sermon on the Mount

This posting builds on last week's


       which is available 

    by scrolling down here

           or going to


         (Right column)



Dear All of Us,

Joe Cerone was our mayor.

He was also a delight.

Whenever we'd meet 

on the street, in a store, 

at an event, it was ritual.

I'd say:

    "Good to see you, Joe."

He'd say:

    "Good to be seen."

We'd both smile a delight.

Jesus pretty much greets us 

in same such delight.

   "You are the light of the world...

    let your light shine before others, 

    so they may see your good works 

    and give glory to 

    your Father in heaven."

                    Matthew 5: 14 and 16

         "Good to be seen."

How does that sit with you?

What's your take here?

Is Jesus contradicting himself?

Is Jesus being illogical,

posing apparently polar opposites?

How does 

"Let your light shine 

 before others

 so that they may see 

 your good works..."  

 - good to be seen -

jive with markedly different  

leads from Jesus?

Sayings such as:

   "Beware of practicing your piety 

    before others in order 

    to be seen by them...

    So, when you give to the needy, 

    don't sound a trumpet before you...

    don't let your left hand know 

    what your right hand is doing..." 

                         Matthew 6: 1-3

   "And whenever you pray, 

    do not be like the hypocrites; 

    for they love to stand 

    in the synagogues 

    and at street corners, 

    so that they may be 

    seen by others...

    But whenever you pray, 

    go into your room,  

    shut the door and pray 

    to your Father 

    who is in secret..."

                       Matthew 6: 5-6

      "Good to be seen"?



Well, Jesus is like a diamond.

There are all sorts of 

varied and exquisite facets 

to him and his teaching.

Variations in unison.

They are neither competing,

nor contradictory, but rather,

wondrously complimentary

    in paradoxical unity.

There's a greater truth here than 

our sometimes limited logic allows.

Let's take a comparison from 

the Hebrew scriptures.

The Song of Songs sings, there's

  "...a time to be born 

   and a time to die

   ...a time to weep, 

   and a time to laugh...

             Ecclesiastes 3: 2 and 4

There are countless 

facets and fashions to life,

many quite different,

even apparently distinct.

Seen in their unified fullness,

they do not contradict,

but blend in the paradox 

of life's wholeness. 

       For sure,

"Life is larger than logic" 

and infinitely more so is


He expands beautifully beyond 

the limits of our efforts at logic.

And what about how much 

Jesus is asking of us?

"You are the light 

 of the world."

OK, for sure most of us 

are brighter than 

a sixty watt bulb, 

but we're certainly 

not chandeliers.

Much less do we have 

world wattage.

    But Jesus does!

          He is 

 "the light of the world."

       John 8:12

He draws us unto himself,

into his intensity, and

is radiant through us.

As disciples we 

don't generate the light.

We accept it, live it and share it

in the here and now 

of our time and place 

in the world.

"You are the light 

 of the world."

The mystic saint,

Hildegard of Bingen,

saw The Holy One as

"The Living Light."

In that Light we live, 

glow, grow, give.

We radiate God in all 

the moments and motions 

of our days and ways.

The disciple lives in Jesus

and with Jesus for others.

Shrinking, safe, stay at home 

     spirituality it is not.

       "Jesus and me" 

        no way, never!

 "Jesus, us, me for you"

 all the way all the time! 

All the ways we live as disciples

are to "delight" others - 

light up for them 

The Road to Right Real - 

God and The Kingdom,

Authenticity, Reality.

Like light, we don't exist 

just for ourselves.

Light makes it possible to see.

That's what we do for others 

in our way and place.

Our living throws light 

for them to see 

The Right and Real,

and the brilliant difference 

it all makes.

What wonder!

What connectivity.

What divine current!

See/sense the disciple's light,

union, trust and commission.

By being the light of the world 

right where we live

and as we live,

we radiate God Goodness.

In us others have 

flesh and blood,

living breathing examples,

of life in Jesus and The Kingdom.

      We High Lite 

the good and true in life.

People get to see God Life 

in the light of our living it.

And that is all the more obvious 

and convincing for the

    faults and frailty 

    of who and how 

    we are so far.

God Light shines through

the limits of our darkness.

In other words, 

disciples have bad hair days

even if they're bald.

Come to think of it, 

even  a chrome dome  

can be shinny bright!!

There's such variety 

in how and where 

we live this wonder -

all sorts of settings 

and scenarios.

We're varied facets of the

     Jesus Diamond.

There's Francis of Assisi.

There's Craenie 

(from last week's blog).

There's Mother Theresa,

There's my Mom.

There's the dedicated teacher 

and coach at school.

There's the couple 

giving their all to raise a family.

There's the principled politician.

There's the elderly full of 

gratitude and deep in prayer.

There's the farmer employing

environmentally appropriate 

approaches to earth, sky, livestock.

There's the supermarket worker 

risking health to serve.

The key here is to really, 

actually, functionally,

in head, heart, and behavior,

be a disciple, a learner,

to get with the program,

which really isn't 

at all a program.

Way fuller than that, 

     it's a person 


"The Light of the world."

As Paul put it,

     "I live now not I 

      but Christ lives 

      in me."

       Galatians 2:20

We don't have to 

"try harder" at all,

just accept ever more, 

genuinely and fully.

That's a lot more and better 

than just "Going to church"

and letting it go at that.

Just belonging to a church

is not yet discipleship,

not yet being

  "Salt of the earth"

  "Light of the world"

Accepting Jesus call 

and gift of intimacy,

a life of discipleship, 

is way better. 

We get:

     - to live as resident aliens 

       on our way to Fullness

     - to live out all the 

       "best practices"

            of the 

        Sermon on the Mount

        Matthew 5:1 to 7:29

     - to live a life style simple, caring, 

       generous and communal

     - to forego the hellish loneliness 

       of self absorption and 

       so much better, work  for the 

              Common Good

    - to come alive giving life 

      to those with whom 

      we are plugged into 

      the same circuitry/sphere 


    - to be brightened, 

      enlightened in just that

         (them and us)

     - to be objective 

       and truth based   

       in this postmodern era 

       were both are degraded 

       and disregarded 

       in favor of what 

       Stephen Colbert terms


        (truth - thin - ness)

          It claims that

          reality, truth is 

          what I feel/say it is-

          tries to makes you 

          your own god, 

          determining reality.

      - to sink endlessly 

        into the sea divine 

        and soar without limit 

        into the sky sacred.

        The Message

translates the scriptures into

our everyday talk because

they were originally written 

in that mode and manner.

Over the centuries the scriptures 

were domesticated, even dimmed, 

by translating them into formal,

rather staid, starched "properness".

       The Word of God, 


         People Talk

"God is not a secret to be kept.

We're going public with this,

as public as a city on a hill.

If I make you light-bearers,

you don't think I'm going to hide 

you under a bucket, do you?

I'm putting you on a light stand.

Now that I've put you there

on a hilltop, on a light stand -


Keep open house,

be generous with your lives.

By opening up to others,

you'll prompt people  

to open up with God,

this generous Father 

in heaven."

     The Message

   Matthew 5:14-16

        OH YAH!


   Good to be seen.

   God to be seen.

You're a sight for sore eyes.

 You're a sight to see!

       Bright On!

      John Frank



Jesus tells us we are


  Salt  and light

Matthew 5:13-16

What's that look like

when I peer into 

the mirror of me?

How zesty, salty,

bright and light

is the life and doing

of the church I attend?

Who and what holds 

me back from a 

     full yes

to discipleship?

How and what helps 

me  embrace a 

    full yes

to discipleship? 

How can I 

go for broke 

and be enriched

enriching as a disciple



If you are new here, 

you are welcome here,

and we are blessed.

   A very special 


    to all in the 

    large groups 

of first timers this week 





Great to be with you!


Thanks so much for sharing

with family, friends 

and colleagues our weekly 

time together here at

       "frankly speaking"

   spirituality for the street

- it goes online mid-day 

         each Thursday

       east coast USA time

- is available each Friday 

  by automatic email delivery 

  sign up top right above

- past postings are available at

            Blog Archive

           right column

       Have a brilliant week 

           helping Jesus 

         turn up the lights.

       See you Next Week!






Thursday, September 10, 2020



    This is the first of our

         Fall Series


        Living out the



Dear All of Us,

       "Saints Alive!'

They sure are and they don't 

keep it to themselves either.

         There's a 


cadence and lilt to them 

and their aliveness. 

And it's delightfully catchy,

invites you into the good time,

into the God Time they are having.

They take to heart and street

The Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus invites us as well 

to do so, to be his, 

to be spiritual, 

to be followers, 

to be disciples,

to be salt and light, 

to be saints.

This week and next 

 "salt and light".

Two weeks of



Matthew 5: 13-16

One of the saints 

so alive and enlivening 

in my life was


Mrs. Catherine  Craenen

out there in Trenton, Michigan

back in the 40's.

Fair warning, I'm going 

to run on a bit (or more) here,

but then I've been a preacher 

for over half a century!!

Occupational hazard!!

The real reason, though,

is that Craenie is such 

a clear seeing of sanctity.

She was down home,

right at home,

"salt of the earth"

"light of the world."


With Craenie there was 

always a twinkle in her eyes 

just waiting for an excuse 

to break out in joyous 

peals of laughter.

That joy came from her heart.

Everything came from her heart.

There was this infectious


down to earth and up to heaven

realness, energy, caring, giving,

     God love, life joy,

in her, from her, about her.

It just jumped out from her soul.

For sure, she had her measure 

and more of suffering.

But she didn't settle.

She suffered it through 

in that God Love at her center.


was a perky, spiritual woman,

free of any drippy, 

droopy religiosity.

The Sermon On The Mount 

was her spiritual charter. 


          "got it" 

and let the Holy Spirit 

fire her engines

as she lived it out.

In the true and best sense,

she was a disciple. 

She lived out her


where she was, as she was.

She didn't run or mount 

all sorts of churchy

programs, policies and projects,

or bother with esoteric religiosity.

She was a family person on a farm.

And in that ordinariness,  

extraordinary she was. 

Craenie connected because 

she was so dearly, 

clearly connected to God

and to God's people and creation,

and that in an energetic, 

happy way - truly


As a little six year old I loved 

"going over to Craenie's". 

It was a ten minute walk 

down the country road

to her farm and home.

I wanted to be with her 

and I wanted to be like her.

She was strong of body and of spirit.

She worked hard and made an art of it.

She lived a simple spiritual life.

She lived GodOned, 

vigorously GodLoving  

all that touched her

and all she touched - 

lots and lots of both.

We always had fun, all sorts of it. 

There were stories swapped and

tons of things talked through.

We read Bible stories and

the lives of the saints. 

We'd pray - simple people prayer.

It was wonderful working together 

as we milked cows, cleaned the stalls, 

fed the animals, hoed the garden, 

picked vegetables, collected eggs, 

baked bread, churned butter, 

put up preserves, canned vegetables, 

made ice cream, baked pies and cakes.

It was at home sanctity,


       "Laborare est orare",

      "To work is to pray".

Cranie would sometimes take me 

with her to visit the shut-ins 

from church and the neighborhood. 

We'd bring them treats 

from farm and kitchen.

And when we got back,

did we ever have 

super good lunches.

I'd always go home

just before dark 

with food and farm gifts

from "Craenie" for my Mom.

Without the words for it,  

as a little six year old

I caught God from her.

And here I am eighty and 

still catching God from her.

And I sure am not the only one.

Amazing what Jesus puts 

  his disciples to doing.

     She simply was 

 as Jesus said to be,

"the salt of the earth"


"the light of the world".



As you and I seek 

our spiritual way

here on the streets 

of everyday living,

   as we try to 


   as disciples by 

      living out 



     lets share 

   and take some 

      Soul Time 

   with the sermon.

As long ago Jesus huddled 

with those first disciples,

so he does with us disciples 

in our now:

  "You are the salt of the earth; 

   but if salt has lost its taste, 

   how can its saltiness be restored?

   It is no longer good for anything, 

   but is thrown out 

   and trampled under foot.

  "You are the light of the world.

   A city built on a hill cannot be hid.

   No one after lighting a lamp 

   puts it under the bushel basket,

   but on the lampstand, 

   and it gives light 

   to all in the house. 

   In the same way, 

   let your light shine before others,

   so that they may see 

   your good works 

   and give glory to 

  your Father in heaven.

    Matthew 5:13-16

     Salt and Light



Now, quite john frankly,

how do we pierce the poetry 


    "salt of the earth" - 

do we start telling 

                salty sailor stories?

What about

   "the light of the world" - 

                sure, we're bright, 

                but world wattage?


In Jesus' time and place 


was the most valued 

commodity in all of society. 

A bag of salt was reckoned 

as precious as a man's life.

By comparing us to salt 

Jesus simply, strongly affirms 

that we are nothing less than 

      essential workers 

     in the his ministry. 


So let's see self as salt.

Salt brings out the best in things.

It adds zest, frees full flavor.

Salt keeps things from spoiling.

Salt stimulates appetite.

In writing here of salt, 

Matthew draws from an 

evocative tradition and context 

with multiple levels of meaning:

sacrifice, loyalty, covenant fidelity,

binding relationship, purification, 

preservation, seasoning, 

eating together ("sharing salt").

    - citations below -

Jesus is using metaphor 

to highlight for us

the life and effects 

of discipleship

The metaphor is meant 

to be translated into 

action and experience.

So lived, 

it attracts and invites.

That's what disciples 

are meant to do.

It's really a top drawer deal 

to parse out the implications 

for us in our here and now

of being 

       "Salt of the earth"


         Disciple Living. 


- brings out the best in others

- adds zest to their lives

- frees the flavors of their uniqueness

- keeps things from spoiling in society

- stimulates appetites for God's goods,

  for excellence 

- supports sacrifice for fuller

- enlivens loyalty

- fortifies fidelity to God Covenant

- binds and bonds 

  people, peoples and places

- purifies to brightness

- preserves worth

- seasons to zip

     In prayerful quiet, 

it would be helpful to name 

    instance and way

that each of these are vibrant 

in living out our right now 



We don't and can't make ourselves

       "salt of the earth"

      "light of the world"

Jesus tells us we are so simply 

by being his disciples,

by following his life lead,

by our union with him.

Being salt and light are givens.

What givens!!

They are givens to be given -

there's no discipleship 

in a chapel of private

   "Jesus and Me" 


Following Jesus,

living the life of discipleship,

spices things up, 

brightens things up for others,

invites them to join the party,

to see things - everything -  

in a new way, to live a new reality.

The Message translation

puts it all like this:

   "Let me tell you why you are here.

    You are here to be salt- 

    seasoning that brings out 

    the God-flavors of this earth. 

    If you loose your saltiness, 

    how will people taste godliness? 

    You've lost your usefulness 

    and will end up in the garbage.


Our focus in this series is on response,


               to living

    The Sermon on the Mount.

     In it Jesus offers us our

        spiritual charter.

     He starts with eight 


           to being, 

    to being his followers, 

         Be Attitudes.

He then shows us that in him,

because of following him,

we will be change agents

in our time and place -

salt and light for others.

Jesus goes on to reveal 

the life to be lived,

pictures it for us,

paints it in the 

practical and particulars

of daily life in his kingdom,

that come and coming.

He locates us with him

      in the line of 

The Law and the Prophets.

He points out best practices,

he points us right and real about:

  - anger, adultery, divorce, 

  - oaths and truth telling,

  - retaliation, love of enemies,

  - non-showy almsgiving,  

    prayer and fasting,

  - real treasure,

  - seeing the light , 

  - choice of God over money,

  - living worry free in God's care

 - being non-judgmental, 

 - being careful not to profane the holy,

 - seeking - just ask and receive,

 - the gold standard for treating others,

 - getting the tight/right door to life,

 - knowing the real by the results,

 - tells us don't talk God - do God,

 -tells us: build you living on rock real.

       (Matthew 5:1 - 7:29 )    

Next week let's see the light,

the light we are called to be,

"You are the light of the world." 

Thanks for this chance to 

       Soul Share

  In God's Dear Love,

         John Frank




           Lev2:13, Ezek 43: 24

Loyalty and covenant fidelity:

           Esra 4:14, Num18:19

Eating together:

           "sharing salt" expressed 

            binding relationship


            2 Kgs2: 19-22


            JOB 6:6, Col 4:6


             Ignatius, Letter to the 

             Magesians 10 


The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary

                   Volume VII

                            Page 120

                 Abingdon Press





A bright Fall welcome 

to all joining us for

the first time here at

  "frankly speaking"

spirituality for the street

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-past postings are available at

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        BE ZESTY!!



Look at the Light.

Feel the communion - 

         "I am the light of the world"


                  John 8:12

       "You are the light of the world."


                Matthew 5:14

We're family!

We are made bright by the Son of God.

We are put to work in the family business,

lighting up, brightening up the world,

in our homes and across 

the lands of our living.

That light makes it possible 

for others to see, to see things 

as they really are.