About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.

Endless mercy

EDIT CalzadillaThe day we walked to #calzadilladeloshermanillos was one of the toughest in #spain🇪🇸 The #challenge of walking the #meseta got me, more mentally than physically. The #caminodesantiago was no game. God have mercy, I cried! How #bleak things seemed. Today’s 1st reading from #daniel expresses my #prayer that day, & my prayer today. The #gospel from #matthew reminds us however that the #mercy of #god is present. There is a price… we are to offer our mercy to others, full stop. There’s the toughest #camino challenge- how to do this. The road may seem barren, bleak, endless, but is not. Refreshment is ours when we open ourselves to receive the #love of #christ and then lavish it upon others. Especially to those who are the hardest to #forgive . Do that however and the #fountains of mercy that #jesus offers flow perpetually. #lessons of #lent

(This is a copy of today’s version of my daily Instagram posts of Lent.  I’m enjoying doing this, and I’m grateful for the good feedback that I have received. Today please be merciful to someone you would prefer not to show mercy to. This is what is asked from us, and it is so challenging to respond to God in this way.)

Personal desert

EDIT Somewhere between Logrono and Najera Sep 2016I’m enjoying being off of Facebook for Lent, and spending my time on Instagram with one post per day; a photo and a mini-reflection. You will have to head over to my Instagram feed, or to my Facebook page (where my Instagram auto posts) to read my reflection for today. Essentially, I am thinking about Jesus instructing us to love our enemies.

Hardest. Thing. Ever.

I’ll gladly take a long walk with a heavy cross on my back than to do this. Yet, I try to constantly push myself to do so. I suck at it, by the way. Big time.

It occurs to me that part of the problem is my own lack of willingness to look at the enemy within. Of course I am well aware of that enemy, but my inner looking often results in things like my own defensiveness about myself, my shame, and my superhuman strength at avoiding and denial. I’m great at that stuff. Big time.

All of this is an invitation to me, a good deal of which is more clear this Lent because I am spending less time “talking” via Facebook. Painful is my awareness this Lent that the driest and most arid desert is often found deep within my own heart. Thus, the gifts of death and new life are made clear, but only if I am willing to keep going.

What does your inner search Please be assured of my prayers as we ply our way through deserts of our own making. God offers us so much more, but even for those of us who say we will follow, do we really?

Who is poor?

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Roman ruins, Jerrash, Jordan  2006

Today’s readings address holiness and poverty. My daily post is up over on Instagram and Facebook. Here is a snippet… And why this image? You’ll have to read the post to learn that, but it is connected. Who is poor? Maybe the person without money is not the most impoverished; a soul without light is a tragedy. All the money and power in the world cannot change that fact, can it?

Monday, 1st week of #lent . Today’s reading address #holiness &doinpagesg right to those in need. #jesus has strong words in #matthew25 . Two thoughts… why do we think being #holy is something we “do?” It’s not task oriented, but perhaps more to do with how we are in #community ?

Hope you will read the rest at one of my other pages, and offer your own commentary either here or there!

Bread line, Lent 1 short

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Seen in Spain, during Camino.

“I gotta put bread on the table!” How often has that line, or something like it been used to justify doing things? Doing things that go against what we know is right. Whether it is not honoring the Sabbath, completing a work assignment that has moral implications, missing time spent with family or loved one… you fill in the blank. We’ve all done it. We all do it.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew show us Jesus is in the desert being tempted. It has to be hot, challenging, and lonely. He must be exhausted, hungry and thirsty. It would be easy to give in, it would be reasonable even. Right?

But is anything about a life of faith, a life following Christ, ever reasonable in the material sense? Think about that and you have your answer. This does not mean some intense over-scrupulosity that turns self-induced sacrifice into some kind of holy-making exercise. Instead, we are asked to keep God first in our sights and choose accordingly. It means trusting God when the last shred is about to tear away. It is that simple, which indeed that difficult. And it does not always work out in the way we wish for. There’s the rub.

How often do we do what we should not? What else can we do…  we don’t want to end up on the breadline, do we?

(I’m off of social media for Lent. What I am doing is posting a photo a day on Instagram, with a short reflection. Each one posts to Facebook automatically. If you are on Instagram, check it out.)

Lent, shorter

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The Jordanian Desert – 2006

I had this great blog post planned for Ash Wednesday, all about going into the desert, looking to those who annoy us the most for important self-understanding and growth, Carl Jung shadow work, plus a dose of Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine.

It did not happen, so here is the short cut. Lent means going into the desert, that means facing away from a lot of what constitutes daily engagement. It doesn’t mean quitting your job for 40 days, but it may mean giving up social media.

Think about the people or persons that annoy you the most. Hold their image before you, struggling a bit with the tension of that moment. (I hate doing it, but I’m going to have to give it a go.) If they are that annoying, they Continue reading

Resistance

I wrote this the other day and for some reason, I did not hit publish. The more I think about it, the more I think that being called to stillness for Lent. Such an act could be interpreted at not doing anything, or not doing enough to resist all the things that are happening. However, we face a long challenge – a very long, difficult challenge. In the stillness comes the answers, at least that is what I am thinking. To be continued before Lent begins… What are your thoughts? I ask because we all need one another at this time. Let me know in the comments.

resistanceRight now I am thinking about being a little kid. Someone – I don’t know who, my much older brother, my uncle, a neighbor – I can’t be sure, has placed the palm of their hand on top of my head, their fingers trailing down like a bad wig on top of my hair. Now their forearm is very straight, held in place with their adult strength. Me? I feel ashamed, because that is the feeling most commonly found in my heart, ashamed for being me, for being alive, for being. And I feel angry, because I am always angry, I am just too young to understand that, and with no way to process the anger, I emit waves of emotion like a gas permeating the air. (That is often still the case, even though I am well versed in anger expression at this point in my life.) Also, I feel frustrated, trapped, and more than a little afraid. Of course at age, 5-6-7-8 I have no clue of anything that I am feeling.

The hot tears roll down my reddened face like oil overflowing a hot pan. The more I struggle, the more tightly I seem to be held in place. All the adults are chuckling away, but I fail to see the humor in the moment. Frankly, I probably fail to see anything because my anxiety at age 5-6-7-8 has skyrocketed. All I do is Continue reading

Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

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My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today is Continue reading