Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Dear All of Us,

So what do we do 

when we haven't a clue, 

much less clarity or conviction,

about what's going on, 

what to do about it, 

how to proceed,

when it comes to 

conflicting major matters?


        MAYBE THAT

Can this marriage be resuscitated,

or do we need to pull the plug?

Can our nation survive 

the slash and burn, 

the demolition derby,

ravaging our political 

and cultural experience?

Do we invest or 

do we go for gold 

and hide it in the freezer?

What about surgery with 

a fifty-fifty survival rate?

How do we deal with churches

low on realized Gospel community?

Stick or stay home and 

say our Hail Mary's there?

What do we do when 

we just don't know what to do,

when it's an excruciating



Maybe is a tame term for 

the terror of major league 


and there's absolutely 

no ambiguity about that.

       Terror it is.

The psychologists say that 

ambiguity is way worse 

than any known 

negative or danger.

The enemy unknown 

is decidedly more threatening 

than the enemy known.

With the unknown



we're like deer in 

the headlights of 


Soul Stalled 

what do we do,

how do we proceed?

Mostly we don't!

We can't.

We're stuck on stopped.

It's the hardest 

of all crosses to bear.

It's the crisscross of uncertainties,

of a seeming impossibility. 

Throws a whole new light on

    "...pick up

    your cross

    and follow me."


   Matthew 16:24

So "crossed" 

we bear the burden

of not being able 

to understand,

to fix,

to solve,

to tidy up,

to control,

to power ahead.

In the strangest of ways

that's how we proceed -

going nowhere fast,

stuck on stymied.

No one knows how Jesus 

came to the consciousness

of who he was 

over the stretch from

being potty trained to

"The Father and I are one."

         John 10:30

I suspect it was 

The Identity Crisis 

of all identity crises,

ambiguity on steroids.



    "Am I just a kid 

     kicking the can 

     around the playground 

     here in Nazareth

     who has all sorts of 

     divine sensitivities,

     or am I somehow divine 

     in a very human way?

     If somehow I am Godly,

     God personalized, 

     how do I go about all this?"

Given the typical life span 

in his day, Jesus didn't go public 

until well into the second half of life.

In his own way he lived 

the later wisdom 

of the Quakers:


"The way will open."

Like it or not, and we don't,

we wait for a way to open

when we are stretched 

between major

           MAYBE THIS

           MAYBE THAT

What we can do, need to do,

while in the pain of waiting

is to pick up 

that cross of ambiguity,

fall in behind Jesus

and get going

where and however 

that is and takes us.

That's key in all this.


does not Soul Stop

beyond that one limiting cross

if we get going and keep going,

shouldering that cross 

in company with Jesus,

vigorously following him

and living him in all 

the particulars and practicals 

of sweaty/sweet life out here 

on the street of everyday life.

Stopped by ambiguity

in one way,

we don't throw in the towel 

and come to a dead stop

on everything else.

We carry on

carrying our cross 

following along with Jesus.

We're in good company:

- couples starting families

  more than perplexed  

  about planet and its people 

  shredding security 

  for safe and civil life.

  Can their children prosper,

  even survive?

- all those generations 

  of black people 

  who could not find a way 

  to proceed free of degrading, 

  inhumane slavery to whites

- the millions of migrants around

  our conflicted world today,

  living in abject ambiguity

  and squalor, many with children

- families trying to live 

  with an addicted member

- young adults raised 

  by inattentive or

  permissive parents

  and now trying to find 

      a foundation


 meaning and a way in life - 

 Is it

          MAYBE THIS

          MAYBE THAT

In all this we count on 

The Spirit of Truth

for strength

as we wait for 

our way forward to open.

We gather, supported 

and supporting in  

Christian Community.

We wait as we move on

carrying the cross of ambiguity,

and it hurts like hell.

Real crosses aren't stylish, 

gold pendants of easy devotion.

Real crosses are rough hewn

and heavy.

They hurt,

none more so than 

the cross of ambiguity.

And in our 2022 

right here, right now

we find ourselves in 

the crosshairs of ambiguity

in many much ways.

The way to proceed 

is not one of our design nor liking.

Rather we pick up our cross as is

and get going by following Jesus

in our everyday living.

           Come on.

           Let's go.



            about it.

          John Frank


      frankly speaking

  spirituality for the street 



Sometimes we just have 

to keep showing up 

until things open up.

"Her breakthrough comes

as breakthroughs often do:

by long and prepared accident."

        Richard Powers

        The Overstory

"It takes an unhurried while. Then

 there it is: absences become Presence.

             Eugene Peterson

"Give energy to the things

you need to give energy to.

Rest where you need rest.

And, through it all, trust:

no matter what you are waiting for,

you are not simply waiting.

You are growing in your capacity

to be prepared for what's to come."

      Morgan Harper Nicholas


              frankly speaking

     spirituality for the street


      Wednesday afternoons

      East Coast USA time



      East Coast USA time

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Thanks for this time and more together.

Every blessing. See you next week.




Wednesday, January 19, 2022


      Dear All of Us, 


So many saints and sages 

sure got it just right.

One way and many they tell us

that if we want to get life just right, 

go where it's experienced just right,

go right to children.

Children haven't yet forgotten 

how to live free and full.

They, their way and wisdom,

come highly recommended:

   The people brought 

   children to Jesus,

   hoping he might touch them.

   The disciples shooed them off.

   But Jesus was irate

   and let them know it:

   "Don't push these children away.

   Don't ever get between 

   them and me.

   These children are at the 

   very center of life 

   in the kingdom.

   Mark this: Unless you accept 

   God's kingdom in the 

   simplicity of a child,

   you'll never get in."

   Then, gathering the children up

   in his arms, he laid his hands

   of blessing on them."

      Mark 10:13-16

       The Message

       What a referral.

It routes our spiritual life right -

          just right.

When life hurts, kids cry.

And if life hurts really bad,

kids cry really hard, loud and long.

Kids show us how to be present to hurt. 

They are also wide open to 

wide open arms of comfort and care.

Kids show us what to do and

where to go with our hurt. 

They model being in

God's Comforting Presence.

When life delights, kids have a ball.

Just get on over to the park

and watch them have to.

They play right into

a rip-roaring good time.

It's glee in high "G".

Kids show us how to play,

show us God's joy 

and exuberance

let loose.

It's God's Play Presence.

When we get in the game, 

play pry's us free from 

our often over wrought 

intensity and tightness.

It let's The Spirt flow 

fresh and freeing

right through us.

It's presence in the 

zippy, zesty Spirit.

If we hang out 

with Jesus and his 

  Kingdom Kids 

we get swept up

right into the 






Just see a baby and mother 

and we see how presence

is with us and God

if we just relax into it.

Relaxing into it is key.

So often and way too much

we strain to make things happen 

in our spiritual lives.

I remember obsessing as a young

wannabe saint in the seminary 

trying to 

    Practice the Presence of God.

It was exhausting.

Come to find out it wasn't up to me.

I was already profoundly present to God.

God was already profoundly present to me.

I just had to show up where I was -

be present to 

            The Presence.

So doing we find that 

God is absorbed in us

and enfolds us.


Again, children show us the way.

A baby asleep on its mother's lap

is really and securely 

in the presence of its mother.

It doesn't think it.

The child experiences it.

They are one.


A nursing baby and its mother 

are intimately one.


At other times the baby plays

with it's mother.


At still other times the baby 

is pained and cries.

The mother holds and 

comforts the baby.


It' a lived union way more than 

a conscious caught awareness.

The whole wonder of living in




    is simply beautiful 

if we'll let it be what it is.

It's not dependent on

the effort we put into it

and certainly not a matter of 

cerebral, conscious earnestness 

on our part.

We don't have to stress

until we are walking around 

in some sort of transcendent trance 

all the time.

It's infinitely wider and deeper

than those limits.

God is 


      in which we are 

      - are present -

We're already there.

Best to do as a child does

when at peace and secure 

in its mother's enfolding presence.

             Be There.

At times it is a conscious awareness.

At times it's an action awareness.

Always though, it is a shared presence,

a shared life in all its moments and modes.

As a growing child shares 

the being and doing of life 

with its mother,

so us with God.

    In him 

    we live 

    and move 

    and have 

    our being.

   Acts 17:28

However we are,

wherever we are,

whatever we do,

we do together,



present to each other.

We do life together.

We are life together.

As we get to be big kids

we learn, work, love,

serve, celebrate,

and yes, suffer together.

Over the years we experience 

knowing beyond knowing,

the way children do,

the way lovers do.

Living in


is living together all of life.

We drive together, 

we cook, 

have a headache together,

listen to Palestrina, 

we try to patiently suffer 

a noisy neighbor, 

we work our day job, 

we pray and meditate, 

we do what we can 

for others and for Mother Earth,

all and always in 


There are moments 

of awed awareness.

There are moments

beyond concept or word.

There are mostly moments 

of everyday living love,

practical presence.

We let God take care of all

types and shades of awareness -

sleep to soulful rapture.

Just be there on there's terms

There's where 

        "There Is"

                The Presence.

We do well to remember 

Mother Theresa.

For years on end she lived 

life together in God,

by faith, not consolation.

No spiritual goose bumps!

When we get strung out,


mixed up,

surface stuck,

conflicted or confused

 - and we do -

it's time to check out, 

even hang out 

with God's

  Kingdom Kids

Learn how to cling to God,

learn how to let God 

hold us tight, safe and close

when the ride is wild

to really wild.

When we are busy, 

happy, excited, working,

learning, sharing,

it's time to check out,

even hang out with 

God's Kingdom Kids.

They'll show us 

how to do it just right.

If we are freely, 

fully present to

  what is, as is, 

with the simplicity of a child 

we'll find ourselves in 

      The Presence 



There are many 

modes and practices

that help us "simple down" 

to that of a child.

We need to be sure, though, 

we don't get compulsive about it,

caught up in technique.

If we employ them to control 

our awareness of

 God's Presence

we are playing God 

and we just aren't there.

We're trying to capture God 

rather than to simply 

be caught up in God.

If we employ one or two of those 

many modes and practices

to get our controlling selves 

out of the way, we're on our way 

to where we are - in 

    The Presence of God.

Again and always, children are 


and show us how to be so.

A baby is present to being held, 

to being nursed, to being comforted.

Kids on the playground are 

"all in" to what is going on right 


     "These children are at the 

         very center of life 

          in the kingdom"

       "Unless you accept 

        God's Kingdom in the 

        simplicity of a child

        you'll never get in."

 So good to simply share together

          THE PRESENCE

            John Frank


   I'm eighty one.

   When I grow up 

   I want to be a kid

   and spend all my time 

   kidding around with God.



     frankly speaking

  spirituality for the street


Posted Wednesday afternoon

East coast USA time


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Have a great week.




The seen shows the unseen.

See a baby and mother

and we see God and us

living in 


of each other.

A baby asleep 

in its mother's arms,

playing with its mother,

crying with gas pains 

as its mother's sooths it

is living in her presence 

and she in his presence.

is totally in her presence.

It's not cerebral, rational awareness,

but it is beautifully real


At other times the baby 

is awake and plays 

with the mother.

There is awareness in

this enlivening presence.

At still other times the baby, 

pained by gas and crying,

is in the mother's caring presence.

as she sooths him.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Dear All of Us,

OK, let's take Jesus 

at his word.

After all, he is 

  The Word 

made, well, in our mix.

Jesus puts into words 

what opens us, 

immerses us,

in the wordless wonder 

       of God.

Let's hear him out

as he gives us the in, 

as he gives us the word, 

on prayer.

  Jesus puts it like this

    Matthew 6:5-8

       Jesus On


- come on now

  no showing off,

  no praying to the crowd

- step away

- close the door,

  go inward,

  open to intimacy


   Jesus On 

  Word Count

- less is more

- keep it to 

  a few choice words

  like these.

Anew we hear, reflect, respond

to these few choice words of Jesus.

          Matthew 6: 9-13

     "Our Father..."

- You are father of us all,

   but right now 

  I'm so glad for this

  One on one with you,

  You and me,


      Daughter Dad

      Father Son



 - You are 

      The Source 

   of me, of my living

   and of all that is

-  You are my




(American English)


  lap cozy comfortable,

  delighting in me

  your child

   "...who is in heaven..."

- you are zoned

     Limitless Real

     Limitless Love


     "Hallowed be your name..."

- sacred is who and how you are

      "Your kingdom come..."

- Your's is the 

  Realm Real

- "Bring it on.

   Count me in."

     "Your will be done,.."

- "Your way all the way."

      "On earth as in heaven..."

- here and now

- right and real

        "Give us this day 

         our daily bread..."

- we know who bakes our bread

- we count on your 

  enriching sustenance

      "And forgive us our depts..."

- in your reality we repent 

  of our unrealities

- forgive us

    ("give - for - us")

  what we lost in sin

     " we have forgiven 

      our debtors."

- we're so into forgiveness 

  that we've bought in with you 

  and made it a spacious wide 

  two-way avenue to unity

    "And do not lead us 

     into temptation,

     but deliver us from evil."

- we count on you and your GPS

  to steer us Spirit Straight

     "For yours is the kingdom..."

- your "kin-domain" is our homeland

        "...and the power..."

- you are the torque and dynamic

  of all that is

          "... and the glory..."

- our sun is but a match to the

  brilliance and radiance,

  the intense Good

  that you are


- there's no expiration date 

   on any of this."


- "Yes, yes!" in Hebrew 

    and very much so

    in my heart

- this is how it is, 

  was and 

  always will be

- we have your Word on it!


     Really wonderful to share 

     together words from

            The Word

     speaking us into the

     sacred silence of God's

     wordless wonder.

            John Frank


       frankly speaking

   spirituality for the street


posted Wednesday afternoons

east coast USA time


available Friday

east coast USA time

sign up at top of online posting


all past postings available

right column online posting


        Blessings on us all, 

        on all that touches us

        and all that we touch.








  Paradox Prayer

First off 

go off to sacred still.

This is definitely intimate space.

No stadium show.

Skip social media

and its swamp of words.

Few words, vast meaning.

After all, we have 

God's Word  

on it

Wednesday, January 5, 2022



Dear All of Us, 

Old and retired as I am,

I still hear confessions.

       Lots of them 


    none of them in

         The Box 


They happen on the phone, 

by email, text, letter.

There's still the standard missteps:

drank too much, lost my temper,

cooked the books, porn, lied,

had an affair or wanted to.

What's new and frightening

is that worry and fear 

are morphing into 

despair about the future,

or of even having one.

There is the now too common 

litany of desperation:

 - the displacement of truth

 - the deterioration of democracy

 - a self-regarded righteous few

   wronging the rights of the many

 - personal and social structures

   built on sands of selfishness 

   and slipping into a sea of distortion

 - a planet in peril

- soul sick politicos thriving 

  on the chaos, lies and

  injustices they create

- neutered religion

- nuclear devastation 

  a button push away



One way and too many more,

too many are bound and gagged by


It cuts the legs out from under 

our spiritual lives,

leaves us stymied on stuck.

As the commercial of yore asked:

    "What's a mother to do?"

      so these tough days,

      days sadly such as 

          January 6tH. 

           we all ask

    "What are we to do?"

For starters we need to size up 

what's actually happening

here and worldwide.

What we have constructed 

isn't holding up. 


The United States was founded 

on wonderful ideals 

    -independence, equality, 

     democracy, justice

and horrendous practices

    -genocide, slavery,


None have been fully faced.

And now we are faced with the

consequence and

resultant collapse.

As is, it's doubtful the enterprise 

can carry the weight of

honest, healthy community.

All through history it's been

the sad same story.

Every flawed dynasty, 

empire, and nation 

failed and fell.

That's a painful fate 

that may soon be ours.

Empire yet again stews

in its own juices of 

deceit and depravity.

And we full face 

that it seems hopeless.

But we don't have to be.

    "My kingdom 

 is not of this world."


     to Empire's 

    Pontius Pilate

     John 18:36

Empire starts and stops

in its worldly wiles.

Ultimately it never wins.

Ultimately it always loses.

The Kingdom of God, though,

is now and without end

in its sheer Reality and Godness.

It's going nowhere except

forever good.

It isn't: "Wait until you die 

and then go to heaven."

It is right here, right now living

whatever the state of grace,

or the state of dis-grace,

in our culture and condition.

Jesus says and shows 

what life in 

     The Kingdom of God 

is and it is in stark contrast 

to life in Empire. 

It's full of hope,

beautifully, simply and clearly 

shared in the 

   Seven Kingdom Parables.

        Seed and Soil

        Wheat and Weeds

        Mustard Seed

        Yeast in the Dough

        Hidden Treasure

        Pearl of Great Price

        Fishing Net

           Matthew 13

    Right here, Right now,

        Let's take lots of 

            Soul Slow

  Hear, See, Feel, Be Filled

            with the 


permeating these parables,

promised and powerful


      Kingdom Living


How is what Jesus shares here

being played out or not 

in our right now  

Let's listen.

Let's see.

Let's contextualize.

Let's meditate.

Let's apply.

Let's accept anew

Kingdom Hope 

Right now we're in 

a tough place

getting tougher

as Empire crumples

all around us.

Given the travesty of

     January 6th.

    and its such,

(I'm writing this before 

   the upcoming 

January 6th, 2022),

we may face more 


financial collapse,

social strife,

all sorts of insecurity 

and shortage,

loss of comfort and convenience.

One in three Americans approves 

using violence to determine 

government their way.

Trying to pump air into Empire

as it goes flat will make us 

even more horribly hopeless.

We can, though, live hopefully in 

     The Kingdom of God

even in the midst of Empire.

Accepting and living in 

The Kingdom of God

is often hard and it is also

fantastically hopeful.

The early Christians, 

persecuted by 

the Roman Empire,

the Christians suffering 

under Communism,

model for us how 

hard and hopeful

it can be.

They put their trust in God  

and God put hope in them

as they took up residence in 

The Kingdom of God

right in the midst of Empire.

   "Do not be afraid, little flock,

    for your Father has chosen gladly

    to give you the kingdom."


               Luke 12;32


      Empire in its death throes

               is forcing us 

              to declare our

            Primary Residence

        Where are we at home?

            What houses hope?

Hope isn't chancy or desperate 

whistling in the dark.

Hope is holding to certainty

and being held by it.

   " For I know the plans 

     I have for you, 

     declares the Lord, 

     plans for welfare

     and not for evil,

     to give you 

     a future and a hope."

       Jeremiah 29:11


                With you

              Held in hope

            Holding to hope

              I confess it

              John Frank


It's been a few years since 

we have been graced 

with an offering from 

Caly McCarthy.

Caly, graduated from Dickenson,

is now on staff at the at 

The Smithsonian here in


She is active in the vibrant  

Cleveland Park Congregational UCC

also here in DC.

On the first Sunday of the year

Caly designed the worship service 

and shared a worthy sermon on

the first chapter of John's Gospel.

It deals with hope,

light in the midst of dark.

Please consider her wonderful offering.

It's an excellent complement

to our considerations here this week.

          frankly speaking

     spirituality for the street


   If you wish, 

here are prompts



We ask The Spirit to lead.

We select a scripture passage 

shared below.

We gentle our mind.  

We still our soul.

We sit with the scripture.

We listen all the way inside.

We apply it to our here and now.

We ask: "What do I do with this? 

We thank and we ask help.

         "Rejoice in hope, 

          be patient in tribulation, 

          be constant in prayer."

                      Romans 12;12

         "For we do not have 

          a lasting city, 

          but are seeking the city 

          which is to come."  


         "And now, O Lord, 

          for what do I wait? 

          My hope is in you." 

                        Psalm 39:7

         "May the God of hope 

          fill you with all 

          joy and peace 

          in believing,

          so that by the power 

          of the Holy Spirit 

          you may abound in hope."  

                          Romans 15:13

        "For our citizenship

         is in heaven,

         from which 

         we also eagerly wait 

         for a Savior, 

         the Lord Jesus Christ." 

                  Philippians 3:20

        "Be strong and courageous. 

         Do not fear 

         or be in dread of them, 

         for it is the Lord your God 

         who goes with you. 

         He will not leave you 

         or forsake you." 

                   Deuteronomy 31:6

       "He will wipe away every tear 

        from their eyes, 

        and death shall be no more, 

        neither shall there be 

        mourning, nor crying, 

        nor pain anymore, 

        for the former things 

        have passed away." 

              Revelation 21:4

      "We have this as 

       a sure and steadfast 

       anchor of the soul, 

       a hope that enters 

       into the inner place 

       behind the curtain."  

               Hebrews 6:19

     "So then you are no longer 

      strangers and aliens, 

      but you are fellow citizens 

      with the saints, 

      and are of God's household."  

                        Ephesians 2: 19


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A special Hello to the 

large contingent of visitors 

this week from Indonesia.

Great to be with you!