Category Archives: Prayer

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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Please Send Me an Angel a Poem by Mark Schmitz

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
these nightmares;
To make things better,

To protect me;

Show me how to make life right.
Please send me an angel.

By Mark Schmitz

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Prayer and the Spiritual Journey

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.

The Scary Thing About Making a Decision

“In the important decisions, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”             – Sigmund Freud

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!


A Simple Prayer ~ The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

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.

Getting Away From it All

“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.

A Good Navigator Knows How to Read the Signs

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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.

From Depression to Love

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.

Where Is My Light?

 

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It seems as though my Light went out on or about the twenty-first of June, 2005. That was the day that my partner of 11years ended our relationship. From that day forward, and for many days thereafter, I could no longer stomach my life, or even my own existence. I wished I were dead. And with that thought in my head, a dull, constant pain in my heart began in my chest, My Light had gone out.  That bulb blew so hard, that I haven’t found a way to turn it back on again. Everything changed after my Light went out. No more jokes from me, and no more smiles either.  The way I look or the way that I live. I began hating myself so much, that all I wanted was to die. I wanted to be dead, or dying. One of the two. It didn’t matter. And then my wish came true. The first suicide attempt. Botched. The second attempt, failed. An admission to a psychiatric facility for management of my bi polar disorder and rehab for my addiction to crystal meth. I began faking my progress through treatment. I said all the right things that were expected of me by the staff at St. Luke’s.

And then I found out that I was not only HIV+, but in full-blown AIDS. At last, I was at least dying. My Light was really gone now. Everything I knew in my life began to fall apart and fell away from me. I couldn’t grasp anything that mattered to me. I couldn’t go back to the home Joel and I shared for ten years. Our pets were to be split up between us. Our furniture sent to be auctioned off. I would move in with my sister, apply for welfare assistance and hope for the day when I might be able to live independently once again. There was to be outpatient treatment, and twelve step groups. There would be no using of crystal meth, and no consuming of alcohol. I was watched as though I were an escapee from an asylum, someone on the verge of committing some terrible act of harm against society. Without my Light, I began feeling lost, alone, and afraid.

The only echoes of my previous life were those of the hurt, pain and suffering I inflicted upon those I claimed to have loved. There were dances in my head, of lies, deceit, cheating and manipulation. Without my Light, there was no life for me to love or for me to feel was worth living. How could Joel ever forgive me? I beat myself mentally until I felt that I was worthless, almost subhuman.

Then there were small sparks. An apartment. My independence. Welfare and food stamps. Friends to support me emotionally and to help me feel at least somewhat loved. A bigger spark still, I met my present partner, Christopher. Things moved quickly. We stated our love for one another the very first night that we met. He never left after that first night. We decided he would move in. This was my love at first sight experience. A glimmer of light. But not Light.

Something was wrong though with this relationship with Christopher. Our dreamy beginning suddenly turned cold and dark, as his temper flared, outbursts we eventually would call them. Physical harm. Hurtful, hateful words that still sting like a nerve pain. Without Light, life was in chaos. I couldn’t manage my life, Christopher couldn’t manage his, and neither of us could fully support the other. Our lights were shut off by the power company and for nearly three months we lived in darkness until we were evicted from that apartment. We lived in disarray. Whose fault was that? Why even bother to cast blame. Joel turned his Light upon me and I saw the way in which I was living, and it was not the way I have ever lived in the past. I could see it all, but only for a few moments. My ex-partner stretched out his arm and said he’d help me out this one time. This one time only.

A new apartment and a fresh start, but not the best choice. Close to the home I had with my ex-partner, and in my old neighborhood, but not safe. Still, life was not managed well. The car is lost, stolen, towed. Who really knows? We got caught driving it with a suspended registration and no insurance. I had to go before a judge and I still have not yet dealt with the fines. I should be filing for protection under bankruptcy. I can’t manage my money at all. And Christopher will spend it faster than I have ever imagined anyone spending money. My ex-partner remained by my side for a time, with ideas to make life manageable. He helped in many ways. His Light shining on me confused me then. I found myself fantasizing about being back in relationship with him. With every crisis in my life, I called him and was there. Shining some more of his Light so that I can see a little better than before. His shining Light revealed strange pathways of mine that appear when I make choices and decisions. I began to become aware that I wasn’t on the path that I should have been on.  Sadly, my ex-partner has completely severed all ties with Christopher and I, apparently having gotten in touch with some latent resentment and anger, for which he claims he will never be able to come to any form of forgiveness, the forgiveness from before, he says, wasn’t authentic.

Without my own Light, I feel that death is near. Surely without Light, my life shall end. I prepare for my own transition. Memorial service and the entirety of its music is selected, Last Will and Testament complete, disposition of the animals noted, Health Care Power of Attorney chosen. Now why won’t death just come? I’ve got to wait here in the dark? This isn’t even funny. I already feel so lost, alone and afraid. Christopher seems to be getting somewhat better though not really committing to taking his meds or going to therapy.

In my darkness I can’t see. Even my glasses are gone most of the time, worn by Christopher. I find a new area of discomfort in my gut. It’s vile and poisonous and comes through my darkness in the form of mean, hateful, hurtful behavior. Words that I know will cause equal pain and suffering to mine are hurled out against Christopher. And following these waves of anger grew despair and deep depression. A depression so deep that I can’t even move. Nothing looks good to me. I see no positive to my being here or my existence. My body feels as though each day, it is shutting down just a little more. I experience chest pain so severe that I have to stop and catch my breath and to rest until it subsides.

I take many, many pictures of myself. Christopher takes many as well. In these pictures I try to smile, as though I would be filled with Light, but each photo reveals a face that is contorted or in pain with each attempt. I look at these pictures and think to myself, “There is no Light living here”. I begin to edit each picture making each look even more gloomy, and dark.

With each day comes greater waves of anger and loss of self control. “I want Joel” I tell Christopher. “Joel will help me. He’ll rescue me. He always does. Joel is always there for me”. Christopher hears this many times over, and eventually begins to doubt my love for him. He believes it is Joel that I want. And if that’s the case I should go to him. But Joel has moved on. I have not. If I had my Light, maybe I could see my way clear, and move on from Joel. Or is that just an excuse to hang on to something familiar and someone who forgives and gives generously? My Light doesn’t even come on when I’m in the house we once owned together. It’s all so different and it doesn’t feel like my home any longer. All I hear are the echoes of the life we once lived there. Echoes of family gatherings and parties with friends. Of projects and crafts. And of course the things I did there that ruined the Light. Shameful, disrespectful, deceitful acts.

I miss the life that I had when I also had Light. Life was Spiritual. Life had a rhythm and a cadence. Life to me now, has a loud bullying voice that embarrasses me. Which of course I retaliate with my own viciousness that is sure to hurt. This life is filled with loss. The loss of things that was once dear and valued by me. Destroyed by someone who had no regard for their meaning and felt there would be a better use for them as an art project. The actual loss of a pet (Precious) and the impending loss of Cinder. I still grieve the loss of Pepper, Blue and CeCe. All of this is what I believe put out that once beautiful, shining, glorious Light that I had been filled with. Now, I have nothing. My writing this will certainly not please my partner. But it is the truth. I can’t go on living a life without Light. It doesn’t even matter how many days I may have left. Even if it’s just a few days of life yet to be lived, I would choose to have it filled with Light than all of this darkness.

I would like to know the steps I must take to reclaim my Light. How exactly do I get it back? Where do I begin? I wish to laugh again, and make jokes. I want a smile on my face to come naturally. I want to feel the love I have for another, and in turn the love one has for me. I want to turn to my God when I feel my Light begin to dim, to talk things out the way we used to. I want to enjoy the routine of life, and respect the entire world around me. I want to be responsible to the pets in my charge and give them the best care possible. I wish to cry less. I cry so hard that my Soul begins to hurt. And Souls aren’t supposed to hurt. I want my Light to return. It has taken much of my strength to cry out for help. But I did. I welcome feedback and feel assured that help will come. And so will my Light.


 

Hello World!

 

 

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My first blog on wordpress.com!  I am so excited to be able to share my blogs with a whole new audience.  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now on my 360 page on Yahoo!  My experience on Yahoo! has been very positive.  I started blogging on Yahoo! after my partner, Christopher created my 360 page as a surprise to me.  He did all the initial “setting up” of the page, and added as much of his own creativity as he possibly could.  I had been telling him for months how intrigued I was by the concept of blogging.  I’ve always been a conscientious one to journal on a daily basis.  For my journal, I must have the most luxurious of bound papers and I treat myself to the most expensive pen I can afford.  Journaling to me, is a release.  It’s a way for me to look back on feelings, experiences and emotions.  It’s a valuable way for me to review the lessons I’ve learned, and a chance to discern what I could have done differently in a given situation.  When I journal, I write as though no one will ever see those pages but me.  Honesty comes forth easily.

Honesty has become a theme in my life.  I haven’t always been a person of integrity or honesty.  It’s taken me a long time and its been a very difficult journey to get to the point where I am today.  My blogs are all about honesty.  My honesty.  The lessons I am learning in this life, the fears I face, about my willingness for greater spirituality in my life, about my addiction to methamphetamines, my experience with mental illness and much more.  There are individuals who may read this and find the level of honesty to which I subscribe well, unbelievable!  Unfortunately, I have either run out of chances with them to prove myself, or they are unwilling to let go of the resentments they hold on to so tightly.  To them, I shall always be “guilty until proven innocent”.   I know the commitment I make each and every day when I first get out of bed; I commit to being rigorously honest in this new day, honest in every thought, word and action.  I realize of course that I am human and prone to error, but by making this simple promise each and every day, I have grown into making honesty a habit and part of the under girding of my life.

The sharing of my honesty and my path of personal growth began on Yahoo! I quickly began making “friends” around the globe, all of whom were sharing such valuable feedback regarding my blogs.  Eventually, I realized that I was nearing 700 “hits” per day on my page!  I also began to yearn for ways to be more creative with my blogs and take my writing more seriously.  I began taking a look at my options, and none seemed better than wordpress.  Here I have an even greater audience, still from around the world, and still offering that valuable feedback.  I look forward to building a following of readers who are perhaps on the same path as I am, or maybe considering making changes in their life.  I don’t set out to change anyone with my blogs, but rather show myself for who I really am.  I’m no different than you…