Category Archives: Prayer
Please Send Me an Angel
I need an angel.
One to watch over me.
All hope seems to have run out.
I need an angel.
My life is a mess,
And it feels as though
no one’s left.
I just need an angel;
Soft wings of protection
to hold me when I’m scared.
Strong arms to comfort me
As now it seems no one really cares.
I need an angel.
To chase away
To make things better,
To protect me;
Show me how to make life right.
Please send me an angel.
By Mark Schmitz
“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” — Abraham Heshel
Prayer can mean to some, “a conscious contact with God as we understood him,” which is important in one’s recovery or quest toward personal growth. There are many ways to pray and each of us has a style that uniquely expresses our spirituality. Meditation or even the singing of a hymn are examples of any number of ways in which people pray. Once we open ourselves to the Universe and the concept of something out there larger than ourselves, we can get comfortable with our own way of praying. It may mean leaving past ways behind. Maybe we’ve been used to prayer that relied only on words. Perhaps we used to pray for what we wanted, making sure we told God precisely what was best for us and everybody else. Or maybe we didn’t pray at all because we didn’t know how to, or were afraid.
I remember growing up in the Lutheran church, Missouri synod and having to attend confirmation class every Saturday morning, grades 6 through 8. I still remember our pastor teaching us “how to pray.” According to this pastor, we first had to tell God how sorry we were for all of our sins, original (sin that comes along with every human) and those we knew we had committed. Then we were to humbly ask for God’s forgiveness. Next we had to praise God; tell him how wonderful we knew him to be and how much we loved him. Finally, we could ask for what we needed, with the understanding that only God knows what is truly best for us. Lastly, we were to thank God for all he has done for us and that which we hope for him to do in the future.
No other song, no other prayer, no other piece of liturgy is so well-known and loved in my Unitarian Universalism church home as “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade. In six short lines “Spirit of Life” touches so much that is central one’s need to communicate with our Higher Power: compassion, justice, community, freedom, reverence for nature, and the mystery of life. It finds the common ground held by humanists and theists, pagans and Christians, Buddhists and Jews, gay and straight among us.
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about how to pray; the Universe shows us how. We must however, be willing to move from the everyday world to a place where it is just the Universe and us. It is an exciting part of one’s spiritual journey to develop new ways to pray, trusting our relationship with the Universe to deepen the experience. What matters most is that we give ourselves to it. When our prayers are from the heart, we know it, and are at peace.
We all make decisions all the time, and each one of them, large or small, creates change within us. Since change is frightening, making a decision is frightening too. The process can become easier by asking ourselves the right questions: “Do I really want to do this?” or, “Will it benefit my life?” or “Is it realistic?” These questions help us know our true feelings, which are the most important part of any decision we must make.
Wrong decisions are often made by focusing on external data: “If I do this, it will please my partner.” or, “I’m doing this for the thrill and fascination.” “I’m doing it for the money.” or, “I want the power and position.” “I may be running away from something I can’t or don’t want to face now, but so what?”
It is important to avoid impulsivity and “all-or-nothing” thinking. If we can just slow down, take our time, talk our feelings through with friends or a support group, we begin to see the bigger picture. If we’re still unsure of the right thing to do, we can ask for the Universe’s help, decide, and then trust the outcome. The only wrong decision is one made for the wrong reasons!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
— St. Francis of Assisi
It is such a simple prayer, but sometimes the most simple goes unnoticed. Diluted by time and recitations made by rote. I reconnected with this prayer on a trip to Sedona, Arizona in 1995 and since then, this prayer has become a staple in my life. It is without a doubt my favorite prayer.
In 1995, my partner at the time and I decided during a vacation in Sedona that we would try one of the Spiritual Jeep Tours advertised as “led by a Spiritual Guide”. We were both bringing more spirituality back into our lives and thought this sounded like a good experience.
The jeep tour was in fact led by one of the most spirit filled individuals I have ever had the opportunity to meet. The pace was not hurried at all. Our small group visited all of the sites in Sedona with high vortex energy and was introduced that day to many Native American forms of spirituality, meditation, The Runes, Tarot, I-Ch’ing and much more. It is nearly impossible to convey to the reader how much each of gained during that 3 ½ hours with our spirit guide.
During our introduction to the reading of the ancient Viking Runes, was when our guide first had us meditate on this simple prayer. I had recited this prayer so many times during my childhood in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches, but as a Unitarian Universalist, had drifted away from the prayer. Our guide suggested reading the prayer each time before we were to do a Rune reading for ourselves or anyone else. That time spent in prayer focuses the mind on the course of right action, which is only one use for the Runes; to determine one’s course of right action for the day, or in a time of great strife or urgency.
The Runes have for me become a very significant guide when making decisions. The Runes don’t spell out a definitive “yes” or “no”, but the text for each Rune leads to greater thought and clarity of mind. Never have I been disappointed in the advice from the Runes. I believe that I will have to blog sometime soon about the Runes. I’ve shared in a previous blog one reading I did for myself on one particular day, but I have considerable knowledge of the Runes, as well as experience with Rune readings that some of you may find interesting. In the meantime, try reconnecting with this beautiful, yet simple prayer – The Prayer of St. Francis Assisi – and I just thought of another blog I would enjoy sharing and many readers may find interesting – on the vortex energy found in abundance in Sedona.
“We yield, and we realize God has wrought something in us, and that the wings of our souls have learned to beat the upper air.” — Anonymous
Where is your “resting place”, that free space for nurturing and peace? As a child in kindergarten, like all of my classmates, I had a “resting mat.” Each day, for a period of forty-five minutes or so, my classmates and I took a little nap.
As an adult, my resting place is inside myself: a place where I live quietly, engaged in inarticulate creation. I go to that silent space because I am safe there. I find what I need to be replenished until I am ready to go into the world again.
For some, their resting places are primarily outside of themselves: the earth, the sea, the desert or the mountains. It is called “getting away from it all,” but it’s really going to something needed as much as air and food.
We all will find a resting place in anything to which our heart calls us: music, writing in a journal, books on personal growth or spirituality or simply in solitude. We all need sanctuary; time to be recreated; time to become reconnected to who we truly are.
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators — Edward Gibbon
I had a friend in Milwaukee who loved sailing on Lake Michigan. Like many people who have been sailing, he would often blame the weather for his misfortunes. “If only we’d had good winds.” Or, “We’d have won the race if we hadn’t been becalmed.” Or, “I never feel sick, but…”
And so it is with our lives when we are under the sway of our past, negative or unhealthy behaviors or our addiction. We blame fate, chance, our genes, the devil, our parents, other people – always looking outside ourselves for some element to account for our defects and our failures.
But the good navigator knows how to read the signs and make the weather work to help the boat and crew. So, too, we can learn to be attentive to our relationships with the outside world, working in harmony with what is around us. The world isn’t a hostile place; we can come to feel at home here. But first we must learn to live at peace with ourselves.
I know that I don’t need to blame the world for my shortcomings. I am finding a harmony between my desires and reality as I learn to trust my relationship with the world.
Fear thrives on distractions. Love thrives on presence. — Alan Cohen
February 19, 2008 was the date of my last blog. So much has happened since then. Much of the time I felt depressed. There were days that would run into one another. Long, endless days. Days in which I simply couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of bed. There were many times of intense anxiety during which my mind played games with me, blinding me to see any beacon of hope. I truly couldn’t see any real possibility of coming through the stressors that I faced. I failed to see any good in life. When I wasn’t curled up in bed, I would be quickly sailing through one mood swing to another. Anyone in my way along this vacillation of moods was sure to be quickly cut down by some sarcastic remark I hurled at them. My mood swings triggered some very negative reactions in my partner as a result. Any thing wrong in my life, our life, or his life I quickly pointed the finger of blame right at him. It didn’t take long before I alienated myself from even his support. I felt so alone, yet continued to alienate myself from everyone.
Not that there were that many people to alienate myself from this past month. The past year has found my partner and I eliminating those individuals from our life that were negative, users, or involved in our life when using drugs. Unfortunately, some good people became casualties in this process. I can see how in my desire to avoid people, I put them into the same elimination process of dismissal. The loneliness that resulted only perpetuated and deepened my depression and mood swings.
Days and nights were spent sleeping, interrupted by periodic attacks of anxiety which would cause pain in my chest so severe and a loss of breath so tight in the chest that each time I thought that surely I would die. But death didn’t come, my problems grew around me, and I couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with them. I was afraid. Lost, alone and afraid.
The list of what I saw as problems, or challenges is so long and far too tedious for me to list here for you, but the main issues were of financial problems, putting my partner’s mother into her final resting place (she transitioned on January 23, 2008 and we didn’t have the money to pay the funeral home for her burial), relationship issues, a longing for the life I once had, guilt and a feeling that I was not adequately caring for our growing family of animals (now 3 dogs, 3 cats, and one parrot), our lack of health insurance, medical concerns and I’m sure there’s more that I could include if I gave it some more thought. But suffice it to say, my world felt heavy, unpleasant and sick.
I wish I could say that I am beyond this latest round of depression; that it’s behind me. But I can’t. Things look better to me. A number of what seemed to be huge, voluminous challenges, have turned out to be almost “non-issues” once they were faced. A big part of my problem was the way I wouldn’t deal with my fears. As my partner withdrew from me, I was no longer receivi9ng his support or help in solving issues which were jointly ours. The turning point came with the addition of another very, very large stressor.
One evening about four weeks ago, my partner got off the phone and said that a dear friend of his – someone who opened her home to him and supported him for nearly two years, was in trouble. She lost her home, and had no where to go along with her two Pit Bull mix female dogs. The primary friendship is between my partner and his friend, and knowing how indebted he has always felt toward her for that long period of love, nurturing and support, the decision to open our home to her and her two dogs came easily. Of course. We’d make it work somehow. This friend Linda’s dogs are Sadie and Sierra, two litter mates that are seven years old. These dogs have always been known to be protective, aggressive and have bitten a number of people during the course of their life. They are known to attack and kill smaller animals, like cats and small dogs. Great. We have three cats and three small dogs (the third dog, Rascal became part of our family after Christopher’s mother died. We gave Rascal to her for Christmas a few years ago). We set up residence for the cats in one bedroom, the dogs in another. Sadie and Sierra would have the living room. It seemed as though it would work just fine.
That first night, Christopher was going into the bedroom where the cats were being kept, and one of them got out, headed straight for Sadie and Sierra. He panicked, running to rescue the cat. Sadie and Sierra attacked Christopher, biting deep into the muscle of his right leg. The pain was severe, that I could tell. It was his shock and fear of the way in which the dogs turned on him that lingered and was difficult to shake. Linda wanted to pack up an leave that night. We weren’t going to let her do that. She had nowhere to go. Again, we’d make it work somehow.
We carefully made our way through the next two days, but in the evening of that third night, I opened the bedroom door and out ran our twenty-six year old cat, Cinder. He was lumbering right between the two growling and aggressive Sadie and Sierra. I panicked. I started screaming at them to get back! Stop! Now they weren’t going after the cat. It was me they were after. They started jumping up my back, biting at me as they lept. Their weight and strength caused me to slip and fall onto the tile floor in the living room. They wildly bit at my backside and both legs. I couldn’t get up! I felt as though I were moving in slow motion in a nightmare. I screamed so loud and at the same time looked back and could see the bared teeth of each dog biting into me. Linda wasn’t home. Christopher came running down the hallway screaming like a maniac scaring them off of me. By this time however, the attack caused so many bites to me, and the jeans I was wearing were nearly shredded from their teeth. While Christopher kept them away from me, I ran to the bedroom. All I could think to do was take a shower. I cried hysterically, and couldn’t get the fierce image of those dogs biting at me out of my mind. I still can’t shake that memory.
Christopher placed a call to Linda on her cell phone and she was back home within minutes. She took the dogs outside for what seemed to be hours. Again, she felt she should leave, and again we said “stay”. We’d make it work out. As strange as this may seem, it has worked out. Gradually, I have come to increase my trust of Sadie and Sierra, and we are all more cognizant of our movements in the house, as well as the placement of each animal. Most who hear this story can’t understand why any of this would be allowed to happen. That we’d bring this into our home, complicating life so dramatically, disrupting so much of what once was our routine. I say, this is our commitment to someone who has given so much of herself. She continues to give of herself, going beyond any expectation of reciprocity in a roommate type situation. Linda is quite easy to get along with as a roommate, as she pulls more than her share of responsibility. She has given me the motivation to move forward in life, and face my fears.
To me, Linda has been an incredible listener, gently asking if I am open to her feedback. She has seen the areas where my fear leads to inaction and ultimately becoming an even greater and more dangerous problem. In those situations, she has taken me by the hand and committed herself to helping me; being at my side, asking questions I may have missed, devising solutions, and ultimately resolving problems. This has been such a burden lifted from my shoulders. It’s the support and guidance I am in need of for now, all given without creating any codependency. It all feels so healthy to me. I’ll share more of this past month’s developments, and the progress we’re all making here in our home.