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Interpreting the Runes ~ Ehwaz ~ Movement ~ Progress ~ The Horse

Ehwaz is a rune of transit, transition and movement; of physical shifts, new dwelling places, new attitudes or new life. It also signifies movement in the sense of improving or bettering any situation.

With this rune, there is a sense of gradual development and steady progress, with the belief in slow growth through many shifts and changes.  This could apply to the growth of a business or to the development of a new idea. A relationship may need to undergo changes if it is to live and grow. Moral effort and steadfastness are called for when this rune of movement, another of the cycle runes is drawn. Let it be said with this affirmation, “As I cultivate my nature, all else follows.”

This rune Ehwaz is symbolized by the horse, and it signifies the bond between horse and rider. Bronze Age artifacts show a horse drawing the sun across the sky. Here, Ehwaz is saying, you have progressed far enough to fee a measure of safety in your place.

Now is the time to turn again and face the future reassured, ready to share the good fortune that comes your way. The sharing is significant since it relates to the sun’s power to foster life and illuminate all things with its light.

Ehwaz Reversed

Movement that appears to block. Be certain that what you are doing – or not doing – is timely. There are no missed opportunities. You have simply to recognize that not all possibilities are open to you, that not all opportunities are appropriate. The opportunity at hand may be precisely to avoid action. If you are feeling at a loss, unclear about the need to act, consider what is timely to your nature and remember this affirmation, “What is yours will come to you.”

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Afraid of Dying

What I fear most about dying, is not knowing for sure where I’m going. I remember when I was in training as an orderly at a nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the training instructor taught us to never just get behind the wheelchair of a patient and start pushing. She explained that while a resident is sitting in their wheelchair, perhaps even dozing off, that the initial start can frighten them half to death, and that not informing the resident beforehand like this, “I’m going to take you to the dining room now, Mr. Schmitz”, erodes the dignity of a resident. They may feel a loss of control.

Would mother Universe please tell me what it will be like? I have begun to form my concept. By working on this gradually, I’ve noticed that my anxiety over transitioning has lessened to a degree. My version that I’m comfortable with for now, goes something like this:

My version is much like what the renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne suggests in her books, which is gleaned from her own psychic journeys beyond with her spiritual guides and from her impressions during psychic readings. In her version, which I easily claim as my belief, is that the real transition itself is painless, and that there is no further attachment to this physical world in the mind.

A tremendous and brilliant white light is our Guide and we will have an overwhelming sense of trust and love in our Guide. Others who have gone before us are there to greet us. Even those beloved pets we lost are there! I’ll see my grandfathers, my mom, even my dogs Heidi, Jessie, and oh my dear CoCo. And my cats Samantha and Maya!

Everyone on the other side looks the way they did when they were around 35 years of age. Communication isn’t through words any longer but rather telepathically. There is a continuous beautiful melody of music everywhere. Time on the other side is different from this world that we know now. What we know as a lifetime to us here is a mere blink of the eye on the other side. Before we know it, those that we left in this world, are right behind us. 

It has been explained to me that we didn’t know where we were going when we were born, or came to this world, and that it is OK not knowing or fully understanding where we’re going when we make our transition. That’s something I’ll have to work on; trusting in mother Universe’s ability to take care of me. Even the last leg of life’s journey is packed full with lessons. Right up until the bell sounds for the next class to begin.

You Are In Integrity

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

 

I am a Unitarian Universalist

 

Spirit of Life

“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.”

Singing the Living Tradition Hymn #123

 

I consider myself to be a part of one of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations here in Phoenix, Arizona and plan to become more involved on a regular basis after I get settled in Tucson, Arizona when I move there this March. When I make mention to people inquiring what “church” I attend, and tell them I am a UU, the response is most often, “Oh yeah, sure; I’ve been to a Unity church before.”  Unity and Unitarian Universalism are not the same at all.

I was raised as a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and in 1979 when I came out to family, friends and my church community, it was made very clear that I was no longer welcome “In God’s house” by my minister.  Thus began a spiritual drought for me which lasted until 1984.  That is, until one of my employees and I became close; close enough to discuss religious affiliations and beliefs.  Upon sharing my experience with the Lutheran church, she said to me, “You need to check out one of the Unitarian Universalist churches.”  I did attend a UU congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Easter Sunday.  I was impressed by the sermon challenging the reality of the resurrection.  I have felt truly “at home” in any Unitarian Universalist Association congregation I have attended in the country.

The Unitarian Universalist Association


For many, it is helpful to understand that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a religious organization that combines two traditions: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. They consolidated into the UUA in 1961.

The UUA roots in North America go back to the independent, self-governing churches of colonial New England that made a covenant to help one another in times of need. In Europe, the UU heritage reaches back to religious and social reformers in England, Poland and Transylvania.

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Jewish-Christian roots. It has no creed. It affirms the worth of human beings, advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth, and tries to give a warm, open, supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion. Use of “Universe” is seen as a non-judgmental, inclusive term; respecting the choice everyone makes as to his/her higher power.

UU Principles

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in UU congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within UU congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of the UU religious community.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to face powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires one’s ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Welcoming Congregation

As a gay man, one of the most important components of the UU congregation for me is the “Welcoming Congregation” program.  In 1987 the UUA established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee found many negative attitudes, deep prejudices, and profound ignorance about bisexual, gay, and lesbian people, which resulted in the exclusion of bisexual, gay, and lesbian people from their churches.  As a result, the Welcoming Congregation program was created to educate its members. Each congregation adapts the program to best meet its goals and each unique situation can bring positive changes to people and congregations.

The Welcoming Congregation Program is a completely volunteer program for congregations that see a need to become more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. It consists of a series of workshops developed by the UUA. The goal of the workshops is to cut prejudice by increasing understanding and acceptance among people of different sexual orientations. Some of the workshop titles include: How Homophobia Hurts Heterosexuals; Connections to Other Forms of Oppression; Gender Socialization and Homophobia; and Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality. Many congregations offer the workshop series several consecutive times as an adult religious education curriculum open to all members and friends. In some congregations the workshop series (and later the entire program) is sponsored by a Welcoming Congregation Task Force/Committee created for just this purpose, while other congregations sponsor the workshop series through their Interweave chapters.

What it means to be a Welcoming Congregation

Congregations who publicly and successfully welcome bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender people have the following qualities:

Includes and address the needs of b/g/l/t persons at every level of congregational life—in worship, in programs, in social occasions, and in rites of passage—welcoming not only their presence, but the gifts and particularities of their lives as well.

Assumes the presence of b/g/l/t people and celebrates this diversity by having inclusive language and content in their worship.

Fully incorporates the experiences of b/g/l/t persons throughout all programs, including religious education.

Includes an affirmation and nondiscrimination clause in UU by-laws and other official documents affecting all dimensions of congregational life, including membership, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals.

Engages in outreach into the b/g/l/t community in its advertising and by actively supporting b/g/l/t affirmative groups.

Offers congregational and ministerial support for union and memorial services for b/g/l/t persons and for celebrations of…family definitions.

Celebrates the lives of all people and welcomes same-sex couples, recognizing their committed relationships, and equally affirms displays of caring and affections without regard to sexual orientation.

Seeks to nurture ongoing dialogue between bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and heterosexual persons and to create deeper trust and sharing.

Encourages the presence of a chapter of Interweave.

Affirms and celebrates b/g/l/t issues and history during the church year.

Attends to legislative developments and works to promote justice, freedom, and equality in the larger society.

Speaks out when the rights of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender people are at stake.

Celebrates the lives of all people and their ways of expressing their love for each other.

Confronting prejudices in a non-judgmental, non-threatening group allows the exploration of their origins and offers an opportunity to replace those prejudices with knowledge. Understanding prejudices leads to personal spiritual growth and congregational unity.

The Flaming Chalice


A flame within a chalice (a wide-lipped stemmed cup), like that which you can see at the top of this blog, is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith.  At the opening of Unitarian Universalist worship services, many congregations light a flame inside a chalice. This flaming chalice has become a well-known symbol of the denomination. It unites its members in worship and symbolizes the spirit of their work.

Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II.   To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love.  Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the image. To many, the cup represents religious community, while the flame represents ideas including the sacrificial flame, the flame of the spirit, and more.

The flaming chalice image has changed many times over the past 65 years.  There is no single interpretation of today’s flaming chalice symbol.  Modern chalice designs often join two overlapping circles which, for many people, represent our Unitarian and Universalist heritages.  Other images include added elements, some of which are merely decorative and others which are very meaningful.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the chalice in UU congregations please visit http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/2442.shtml

Spiritual Life

I began this blog with my favorite UU hymn, “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade.  It is UU Doxology, or perhaps the UU “Amazing Grace.” Many congregations sing it every Sunday, or at least enough to know the words by heart. Sermons have been devoted to this one song.

In six short lines “Spirit of Life” touches so much that is central to our faith—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.

 

The Miracle of the Butterfly

 

 

A butterfly is a miracle,
A divine creation that fleets,
After propelling the caterpillar within,
An array of predators he cheats!
— Dr. Maisie

Do you suppose it’s true; for a human being to ever see a butterfly in our lifetime is a miracle?  Someone shared this factoid with me a few years ago, and then I heard Katie Couric mention it just before she left the “Today” show.  After hearing that, I did some searching of the Internet, looking for some data that would give me the odds of one seeing a butterfly or not in one’s life.  Surely, someone has done the research and worked the numbers, haven’t they?  I found that someone worked the odds for the Monarch butterfly; specifically those that have been tagged to give scientists the ability to track their migratory path and successful arrivals to their seasonal home.  For someone to see a tagged monarch, the odds are over 3,500,000 to 1.

I love butterflies.  The butterfly is a symbol of hope in for me.  This past October and November found me riding the bus back and forth to the same appointment each day. From the bus stop, I walked along a jogging path used by a middle school or high school.  From the very first trip I made, to my very last, each day I was “escorted” by a pair of Monarch butterflies that would fly seemingly while performing the tango.  I can’t be sure if it was the same pair each day, but I am telling you honestly that every day two butterflies flew right along me for that one-third of a mile hike I made.  At a time when I was feeling so lost, alone and afraid, there was my symbol of hope, right there at my side.

From what I can recall from Katie Couric’s brief mention of the odds of seeing a butterfly on this earthly plane and in our lifetime, it is important to note that even though our population has exploded, we still are not populating the planet all that densely.  There is still about 7.5 miles between each human on earth if the entire surface was livable.  Then there is the butterfly’s struggle from larvae, to pupae, to the big show of the transformed winged creature all worth noting.  There are so many predators and things that could go wrong in this transformation.  Perhaps it just isn’t necessary to know the odds.  I think I’ll just be satisfied knowing that each time I see a butterfly, I’m witnessing a miracle!

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A Symbol of Hope ~ The Butterfly

A SYMBOL OF HOPE

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty
belong to our world
But then it flies again
And though we wish it could have stayed…
We feel lucky to have seen it.

— Author Unknown

Butterflies have always been thought of by me as a symbol of great hope. This photo, which was recently posted by a new Facebook friend of mine, reminded me of that fact. With butterflies now fresh in my mind, and eager to share the butterfly as a symbol for my readers, I am including this image because I feel it best reflects the unlimited potential that is available to all of us.

This image can serve for us all as a reminder of our unlimited potential through the love and support we can give to one another each day – to the best of our ability. Reconnecting with the butterfly is one step toward reclaiming happiness. I am setting out to free myself from depression and negative thinking. I will do all that is necessary. I will do what is healthy so that like the butterfly I can gracefully maneuver my way through the rest of my days.


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Silva Mind Body Healing

I’ve blogged several times about how much the Silva Method of Mind Control has helped me in my life. Recently, I came across this very comprehensive website –   and yes its goal is to sell something, but please check out its content.  http://www.silvamindbodyhealing.com/

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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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Courage is a Lot Like Love

The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

From the Wizard of Oz: The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

“Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.” -Napoleon

In the story, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, on her way down the yellow brick road helps the Scarecrow from being impaled on the pole he has been on, helps the Tin Woodman move again with a simple oil can and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All are convinced by Dorothy that the Wizard can help them too. Together, they overcome obstacles on the way including narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies.

When each traveler meets with the Wizard of Emerald City, he appears each time as someone or something different. To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a ravenous beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them, but one of them must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard provides the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion with a head full of bran, pins, and needles (“a lot of bran-new brains”), a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and a potion of “courage.” Because of their faith in the Wizard’s power, these otherwise useless items offer a focus for their desires.

Courage never operates in a vacuüm; we can always try hard and see ourselves as courageous about something.  We also need to believe that there will be some consequence to our acts of bravery.  It seems we are all looking at the long-term for a deliverance for ourselves and others.

Love, too, needs a sense of future, time to develop and flower.  It is only passion that lives for an instant and passion, like the red rose, doesn’t last out the full year.

So I believe, love and courage are similar and work together for our own good and the good of others.  By working on ourselves through a form of personal growth and development we treasure love and courage as we find ourselves with greater wisdom and more abundance of peace with ourselves and others.  I believe that this is one of the ways we have faith in the long-term and in things that endure. No one is suggesting we can change overnight, but with love and courage and the hope on which they depend, we can all work wonders! I believe in my courage to change day-by-day.

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You Are Wonderful and I Love You

 

 

“Words can sting. Words can hurt.” – Mark Schmitz

“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglect” — William Shakespeare

I’ll never make a feeling of true safety by seeing my self-image in terms of my character defects. To give my shortcomings such power is to make sure that I will never have enough faith or strength to continue forward; I am either condemned to live in the past, trying to change it, or to the future, trying to control it.

The only safety is in the present, affirming the positive qualities I have. Even if I’m in deep sorrow this moment, I can feel safe by appreciating that I can to grieve, which takes courage and passion for life. Appreciating my many good points is a way for me to counteract the fear that eats away at my security.

There are some ways I can affirm my self-worth. I can choose affirmations from my affirmation jar, ask others for positive support, list my good qualities and include my progress in my journal or blogs. I deserve to have the freedom that comes from feeling safe within me, not replaying the tapes that hold the hurtful words said in the past. Rather than saying to myself now – “You’re too skinny” or “You’re not attractive,” I can say “You’re wonderful and I love you.”